No cross-voting as Metbah elected Speaker

SHILLONG: UDP legislator and MDA consensus candidate Metbah Lyngdoh was elected as the 11th Speaker of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly on the concluding day of the Autumn Session on Friday.
Metbah defeated Congress nominee Winnerson D Sangma by a margin of 20 votes.
His election as Speaker comes close on the heels of his coronation as the UDP president on Wednesday.
The three-time legislator from Mairang secured all the 39 votes of the MDA members while all the 19 Congress legislators voted for Winnerson though there was fear of cross-voting ahead of the election.
Deputy Speaker Timothy Shira did not vote as he was presiding over the House while the Shella Assembly seat is vacant following the death of Donkupar Roy.
The voting was conducted through secret ballot and before the exercise, Opposition Leader Mukul Sangma urged the deputy speaker to do away with the convention of calling out the names of MLAs for voting as this would dilute the secrecy of voting. He was also against putting constituency-wise serial number on the ballot paper.
However, both Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prestone Tynsong informed the House that convention should be followed as election of the Speakers in the past was also conducted similarly. Mukul, however, disagreed.
Later, the deputy speaker ruled in favour of convention.
Mukul agreed to it only after getting an assurance from the House that the ballot papers would be destroyed a few days after the election. His intervention ensured that the votes of all the Congress MLAs remained intact.
The MDA partners were careful too and there was no cross-voting or any invalid vote.
After the election, both Conrad and Mukul accompanied the newly elected Speaker to the chair.
Later, the chief minister said Metbah would excel as the Speaker though he would miss him in the Cabinet.
Mukul spoke about his association with Metbah and described him as an amiable person. He also said it may have been a difficult time for the MDA to decide on the post of Assembly Speaker as convincing a member to contest the post has always been difficult.
Taking part in the felicitation, NPP member Thomas Sangma said it was an honour for him to vote for Metbah as he had voted for him when he was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2008.
The deputy speaker said like last year, this time too, he could not cast his vote since he was presiding over the House.
Replying to the felicitation, Metbah thanked God for elevating him to the position.
Referring to the selection process in the MDA, Metbah said, “It took only one second to decide on contesting the post of Speaker.”
Besides thanking all the legislators, Metbah said he would not have been in this position if the people of Mairang had not elected him. “I accept the new role with humility and this is a unique responsibility bestowed on me,” he said.
Metbah also asked the members to articulate the problems being faced by the people of their constituencies in the House with a view to find solutions.
He also reminded the members that the Meghalaya Assembly is known for high standard of debate and also for maintaining decorum.
Others who took part in the felicitation were Congress members Mayralborn Syiem, Ampareen Lyngdoh, Zenith Sangma, PT Sawkmie, Winnerson, AL Hek (BJP), Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar (HSPDP), UDP MLAs, Lahkmen Rymbui, Brolding Nongsiej, Nujorki Sungoh, Lambor Malngiang (Independent), Adelbert Nongrum (KHNAM) and NPP members James Sangma, Macmillan Byrsat, Rupert Momin, SG Esmatur Mominin and Ferlin Sangma.
Metbah for early completion of new Assembly
The new Assembly Speaker will carry out site visit at Mawdiangdiang to assess the progress of work of the new Assembly building.
The construction for the new Assembly building was initiated by Donkupar Roy, the former Speaker of the Assembly who passed away on July 28.
It was his wish to complete the building by 2020.
When asked about his priority, Metbah told reporters, “I will go to the site to update myself. I would like to complete the work in 2021 though the target date is 2020 which will coincide with golden jubilee of Meghalaya.”
To a question on the improvement he will bring about in the functioning of the House, Metbah said he will ensure that allotted time is fully utilised for meaningful discussion in the House.
Lyngdoh, who was born on April 4, 1969, entered politics in 2008 and contested the Assembly election from Mairang on a UDP ticket.
He was elected again from the same constituency in 2013 and 2018.
In May 2009, he was appointed government deputy chief whip.
On March 7, 2018, he was appointed as Minister in-charge of Water Resources, Tourism, Excise and Home Guards & Civil Defence.
He resigned from the ministry to contest the post of Speaker.

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