NEW DELHI: Dissension in ruling Congress has nothing to do with the size of the State Cabinet which cannot be changed as the downsizing of cabinet was done under a constitutional amendment, former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma said on Monday.
Sangma, who was a member of the Constitutional Review Commission during the NDA regime, said the Commission had debated this sensitive issue in depth then. The amendment was also passed by both Houses of Parliament with support of all major political parties and endorsed by almost all the states as constitutionally required.
Sangma, now an MLA from Tura, was reacting to reports that the downsizing of cabinet is the root cause of political instability in Meghalaya mainly in the present Congress-led government.
Former MPCC president OL Nongtdu on Sunday said it is difficult for Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma to satisfy all the 28 Congress legislators, of whom only nine are in the Cabinet.
“All the 19 Congress leaders, who did not get any ministerial berth, would not sit idle since all of them want to be ministers. They would always engage themselves in some activities to express their dissatisfaction,” Nongtdu said.
The maximum number of ministers in the 60-member State Assembly can be nine which is 15 percent of the House strength as fixed by the constitutional amendment. But, states with smaller assembly size can have up to 12 ministers. States like Mizoram, Sikkim and Goa with less than 60 seats are allowed to have maximum 12 ministers under such provision.
“Meghalaya is in the forefront of demanding bigger Cabinet for a long time because of frequent instability. But, the State had instability even when there was no cap on the size of the Cabinet,” PA Sangma said.
Instability is not seen in case of most of the other similarly placed states in the region. Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura have all 60 or less number of assembly seats but have fairly stable governments.
Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh are ruled by the Congress leading coalition governments, Tripura has a CPI(M)-led Left Front government for the last 15 years and the two other states are ruled by regional parties.