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Cabinet reshuffle delayed

AICC cautious after bitter experiences in Nagaland, Arunachal

From CK Nayak

New Delhi: The much talked about reshuffle of the cabinet in the three year old MUA-II government in Meghalaya is unlikely to take place any time soon in view of lack of unanimity within the Congress and the State government and unforeseen developments within the party in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is under tremendous pressure to induct at least three legislators – former minister Martin M Danggo, former Deputy Speaker Sanbor Shullai and Government Chief Whip Ronnie V Lyngdoh into the cabinet but in vain. All three had supported the chief minister through thick and thin when he faced a crisis days into his second term.
Moreover, the chief minister is keen to drop some of his known critics like Deborah Marak, Prestone Tynsong, H.D.R. Lyngdoh and Rowell Lyngdoh. Though the AICC is not averse to a reshuffle which is the chief minister’s prerogative, they party higher ups do not want the party to get divided in Meghalaya as was the case in Arunachal Pradesh, AICC sources said.
In Arunachal Pradesh 14 MLAs of the ruling Congress have openly revolted and joined the main opposition BJP camp following which President’s Rule is set to be declared in the State – a situation that goes against the interest of the Congress.  In Nagaland all the nine Congress MLAs have joined the DAN Government where the BJP is the main ally, much to the embarrassment of the AICC.
Such a move in Meghalaya will not only create fissures in the party but also result in revival of change of leadership demand which was a trademark demand of the Congress till Mukul completed his first term in office. Despite a series of defeats starting with the Lok Sabha polls in Tura to the drubbing in the Garo Hills ADC election and the most recent defeat in the Nongstoin by poll, there has been no serious demand for change of leadership till now.
It is a different matter that there is widespread resentment within the party and the State government over several issues. The State Congress is also vertically divided over vital issues like dual posts and is facing a tough challenge in the form of a direct confrontation between the government and the KHADC.
The recent changes in the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee have not made the chief minister’s position stronger either. To his discomfiture, KHADC CEM Pyngshngainlang N Syiem, with whom he has a running battle, continues in the post of MPCC general secretary.
The chief minister’s position has also become weak in the wake of transfer of the AICC general secretary in charge of the State, Luizinho Faleiro, and the blurred stand of MPCC president D.D. Lapang. The AICC has also not taken any action on the dual post issue but instead allowed Syiem to hold meetings with both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.
Most of the cabinet ministers have met either Sonia or Rahul and apprised them of the developments in the State, the latest in the line being Rowell Lyngdoh.
On the other hand, the chief minister and Lok Sabha member from the state Vincent H Pala run like two parallel lines – never to meet at the end. This has caused differences in the party and Pala has become a rallying point of the chief ministers’ critique.

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