Demand for leadership change, empty pre-poll utterances dominated 2016

SHILLONG: The perennial demand for change of leadership in the Congress Legislature Party and the statements without any action on pre-poll alliance by the non-Congress parties marked 2016 in Meghalaya.
The prominent political event of the year was the suspension of KHADC CEM P.N Syiem from the Congress for three years for being vocal against the Chief Minister, but at the cost of five MDCs who left the party in protest.
Moreover, the wining of the dual posts case made Syiem stronger and his PDF coalition in KHADC got a boost with the support of as many as 22 MDCs in the House of 29 after the by-election to seven district council seats, which saw the Congress getting only one each seat in KHADC and JHADC.
Those who suffered the most in the by-poll to KHADC was Home Minister HDR Lyngdoh for his son’s defeat and HSPDP supremo Ardent Basaiawmoit for the setback to his candidate in Nongkrem.
The dropping of two ministers, AL Hek and Rowell Lyngdoh, from the cabinet capped the dissidence in the Mukul Sangma-led MUA-II government, but the move has not helped in improving the party’s image.
The supporters of both Hek and Rowell were annoyed over the decision as they believed that the reasons cited by the Chief Minister were not genuine.
The sudden removal of Congress Minister Deborah Marak from the post of working president had also irked her as it was carried out without her knowledge.
These developments have only eroded the image of the party that will have to try hard to retain its regime in 2018.
The demand for change of leadership erupted after the humiliating defeat of the Congress candidate and Chief Minister’s wife Dikkanchi Shira in the by-election to the Tura Lok Sabha seat at the hands of NPP’s Conrad Sangma in the middle of the year.
NPP’s victory coupled with the defeat of the Congress in the neighbouring Assam in the Assembly polls rejuvenated the non-Congress parties in the State.
Though there were many statements from non-Congress parties on a pre-poll alliance ahead of the 2018 Assembly polls with the blessings of  BJP led North East Democratic Alliance post Assam polls, the idea is yet to become a reality.
HSPDP has already distanced itself from NEDA and also a pre-poll alliance.
When the disgruntlement in the Congress persisted during the year, the AICC had to rush in leaders like Mukul Wasnik and CP Joshi to quell the dissidence, but the matter reached the Assembly with the Opposition moving a no-confidence motion against both MUA-II government and the Assembly Speaker with some understanding with the dissidents.   While the no-confidence motion against the government was withdrawn after a six-hour debate, the Opposition did not take up the no-confidence motion against the Speaker.
The main reason for the inability of the dissidents to change the current leader was that more aspirants from among the dissidents surfaced vying for the top post.
Though the government survived the test, the party failed to remain united and the dissatisfaction among the legislators and the party men are bound to recur in 2017.

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