Rejig in Meghalaya cabinet, two ministers sacked

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Shillong, Aug 25 (IANS) For the first time in over three years, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma effected a minor rejig in the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA-II) government by axing two cabinet ministers.

Senior Congress legislator and Deputy Chief Minister Rowell Lyngdoh and Health and Family Welfare Minister Alexander Hek were removed from the ministry, and will be replaced by Martin M. Danggo and Ronnie V. Lyngdoh, both of the Congress.

Sangma called on Governor V. Shanmuganathan at the Raj Bhavan and advised him to accept the resignation of the two ministers and to administer the oath of office and secrecy of Danggo and Lyngdoh.

Danggo and Lyngdoh will be administered the oath of office and secrecy at Raj Bhavan by Shanmuganathan at 11:30 am on Friday.

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Congress sources said that the Congress president Sonia Gandhi approved the sacking of Hek because he maintained ties with the BJP and Lyngdoh due to his old age.

However, Sangma said that it was meant to “to enable space for everyone to access to a kind of experience so that the state can have more leaders”.

Asked if the cabinet reshuffle was aimed at pacifying dissidence within the Congress Legislature Party, he said here was “no dissidence, but only grievances expressed from among the colleagues”.

The Chief Minister said that there will be no elevation of any cabinet minister to the rank of Deputy Chief Minister in place of Lyngdoh, since one Deputy Chief Minister post already exists, and is being occupied by Education Minister, R.C. Laloo.

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While Danggo, a senior politician from South West Khasi Hills district, had earlier served as a cabinet minister, for Lyngdoh, who hails from East Khasi Hills district, it would be his maiden entry into the council of ministers.

Meghalaya has a 12 member ministry, including the chief minister, and it is for the first time since the MUA-II government assumed power in March 2013 that the cabinet will see new faces.

The cabinet rejig takes place a day after Sangma landed from New Delhi where he reportedly met top AICC leaders to seek their approval for the reshuffle.

Since May, there was reportedly rebellion within the Congress parliamentary party against the chief minister with dissident legislators seeking he be changed.

In the 60-member legislature, the Congress has 30 members, and has the support of the Nationalist Congress Party’s two members and 11 Independent legislators.

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