Internal squabbles may return to haunt Cong

GHADC polls: Post-mortem

From CK Nayak

NEW DELHI: The internal dissension within the ruling Congress in Meghalaya is likely to come to the fore sooner than later with the defeat of the party in the GHADC elections while a tussle is already on between the KHADC CEM PN Syiem and Chief Minister Mukul Sangma over contentious dual post issue. Observers feel that the ongoing tussle over dual post issue will intensify with the positions of the Chief Minister weakening and his present bête noirie, party legislator and KHADC chief getting stronger. Congress could wrest the Chokpot Assembly seat from the Opposition only few months back and prior to this the party got a record number of seats in the last Assembly polls which gave Sangma an uninterrupted second term. It is a different matter that Congress nominee and Chief Minister’s personal choice lost in the last Lok Sabha polls from Tura, which helped his arch rival Purno Sangma spring back to centreof the country. Hence, the party is not able to carry out a reshuffle in the ministry which is long pending and there are many aspirants waiting including former Deputy Speaker who even resigned from his post. The AICC General Secretary in charge of the Meghalaya V Narayanasamy when contacted termed his party’s defeat in GHADC polls as ‘unexpected’. Informatively, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had specifically asked MPCC chief D D Lapang last month that the party should go all out to win the GHADC polls. Lapang also campaigned in the Garo Hills polls as per high command’s wish but in vain. Following the recent political developments in the State, the State Congress leadership has apprised the party high command in Delhi of the situstage. The Chief Minister’s opposition to candidature of Vincent H Pala for the Shillong Lok Sabha seat for a second term also weakened his position. The KHADC CEM, who resigned as the chairman of the Meghalaya Economic Development Council (MEDC) recently criticizing the Chief Minister’s style of functioning, enjoys the backing of Pala and other Khasi leaders. “Now with the Congress losing grip over Garo Hills the voice of opposition is likely to get louder,” the observers feel. Moreover, the position of the AICC as a whole has been shaky ever since the party’s debacle in the last Lok Sabha polls, which was followed by a series of defeats in successive assembly elections in different parts ation arising out of the amendment Bill barring MLAs from holding the post of MDCs. The AICC general secretary who got a hint about the Garo council poll result will now visit Shillong later this month. The AICC is also more worried since Purno, a partner in the BJP-led NDA, has made a comeback for a second time in a span of two years. Congress legislators had, on several occasions during and after the passage of the Prevention of Disqualification (Members of the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya Amendment) Bill, 2015, questioned the timing of implementation of the Bill. The Bill should have been passed before the Assembly polls or should have come into effect after the term of the current assembly is over for which the MLAs are elected, they feel. It is interesting to note that the decision to abolish dual post was discussed within Congress party. But it was agreed that this will come into effect from the next Assembly. Apparently, the government jumped the gun, AICC sources told The Shillong Times Some Congress legislators had indicated that the ‘principal target’ was party legislator and KHADC Chief Executive Member due to the tussle between the KHADC and the State Government on the issue related to empowerment of headmen and the jurisdiction of MUDA in areas beyond the Municipality. Syiem himself had stated that he was made the target for his efforts to champion the cause of the KHADC. The State party leadership has been silent on Syiem’s criticism of both the Chief Minister and the MUA-II government except Lapang assuring that the differences will be sorted out during Narayanasamy’s visit. Narayanswamy, who is considered to be close to Sonia, will discuss the poll debacle during his visit on October 25. He is also expected to submit a report to Sonia after his return, sources said.

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