Meghalaya drama ends: Conrad Sangma-led non-Congress govt to take charge on Tuesday

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From Dhrubajyti Chakravorty

SHILLONG, March 4: After day long political in Meghalaya capital Shillong Sunday it is now final that a non-Congress government under the leadership of Tura MP and president of National People’s Party (NPP) Conrad Sangma will take reins of government.

Conrad Sangma along with almost all the supporting MLAs on Sunday met Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad to stake claim to form the next government in the state with the support of 34 MLAs.

The delegation was accompanied by the architect of creation of coalition Himanta Biswa Sarma, Union Minister KJ Alphones and senior BJP leader Nalin Kohli.

Conrad, who will be sworn in on Tuesday, will not have a deputy, BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, announced after Conrad staked claim to form the government and received an invite.

Sarma said the BJP-back coalition would have 34 lawmakers. “Currently we have 34 members, NPP -19, BJP-2, UDP-6, HSPDP-2, PDF-4 and 1-independent. Number likely to go up,” Sarma said.

Meghalaya is the second state, after Goa, where the Congress has not been able to stitch a coalition in time despite emerging as the largest single party.

As he came out of his meeting with Governor Ganga Prasad, Conrad said “it’s not about being single largest, it’s about having the majority”.

Following his meeting with Prasad, the NPP leader said that his party MLAs are committed to the development of the state and its people.

“Running a coalition government is never easy but I am confident that the MLAs who are with us are very committed to the state and people, and will work towards development of the state,” Conrad said.

He further said that by tomorrow uncertainty around the government formation will lift.

“Next 2-3 days are very crucial because Assembly term gets over. The House expires on 7th, before that everything has to take place and by tomorrow everything will be clear,” he added.

The BJP has, however, made it clear that it wasn’t looking “at a major role” in Meghalaya but has been rallying support for the NPP. Himanta Biswa later confirmed that one of its two lawmakers would join the government.

Conrad, who had earlier said to be reluctant to be projected as his party’s presumptive chief minister, said he agreed to assume the responsibility on the insistence of the coalition partners.

A late afternoon announcement by Dr Donkupar Roy of the United Democratic Party (UDP) pledging his support to a government led by the 40-year-old cleared the decks for the NPP-led coalition staking claim.

“The UDP decided to go for non-Congress government with Conrad Sangma as the Chief Minister,” Dr Roy, who emerged as the kingmaker, said after he rebuffed a last-ditch effort made by the Congress.

There was high drama at Dr Roy’s house earlier in the day when outgoing Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma reached his house around the same time to seek his support.

Congress team meets Governor

The Congress emerged as the single largest party in the Meghalaya assembly election, but its tally falls short of the halfway mark needed to form a government in the state.

Meghalaya Congress working president Vincent Pala and general Secretary in-charge CP Joshi met the Governor Ganga Prasad last night and handed him a letter stating that Congress is the single largest party in the state.

Meanwhile, Mukul Sangma, who was today nominated as the leader of Congress Legislative party, submitted his resignation to the Governor.

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