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Is Meghalaya heading for political instability?

From C K Nayak

NEW DELHI: Is the season of political uncertainty in the “stable” Meghalaya lurking in the horizon?
The recent BJP claim that Chief Minister Mukul Sangma lacks support from his own party MLAs, seems to be a warning bell for the embattled Congress-ruled Meghalaya specially after fall of Congress Governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand .
The prevailing unabated undercurrent of dissidence within the ruling Congress party in the Hill State, which by its sheer political culture sees frequent changes in the Government, and BJP’s aggressive posture against Congress-ruled states, give credence to thoughts of possible instability.  The exception so far has been Mukul Sangma who has succeeded in being in power since 2010. The ugly political discord between the Chief Minister and the Chief Executive Member of Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council—both ruled by the same party—fuels speculations of a possible realignment of political equations in Meghalaya.
The question that remains to be answered is which of the two groups in Congress will be the first to draw.
With the open stand-off between the CM and the CEM still unresolved, Assam election has put a spanner in the simmering dissident activities giving some grace time to the beleaguered party, observers here feel. But if Congress fails to fight back BJP resurgence in Assam , other North East Congress ruled states – Meghalaya, Manipur and even Mizoram—may fall in quick succession,  observers feel.
None other than party President Mrs Sonia Gandhi made this clear in one of the poll rallies in Assam. “In Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, BJP did everything to topple the elected governments. They are trying to do it in all states ruled by Congress,” she said.
It is a different matter that Congress too toppled opposition ruled states when in power  at the Centre. More or less Aruanchal Pradesh like situation was then enacted by  Congress in 2009 while successfully engineering defection leading to the fall of Donkupar Roy’s  multi-party coalition Ministry .
On her part she and even Vice President Rahul Gandhi gave audience to the CEM despite that the fact that he had openly revolted against the Chief Minister. He was assured that justice would be done to him and till date nothing has been happened in his favour or against .
In the case of Manipur, Sonia called the CM thrice to Delhi and changed his favourite PCC President to quell dissidence within the party. This was done to prevent an Arunachal Pradesh like situation where the dissidents were not given an audience and the deposed Chief Minister Nabam Tuki worked as per his whims leading to the fall of the Government with the connivance of the BJP-appointed Governor.
The same scenario stares in  the face of the three remaining NE states including Meghalaya even today. A string of defeats starting from Tura Lok Sabha polls to trouncing in Nongstoin Assembly seat and debacle in the Garo Hills District Council has also made Congress position vulnerable even though it came out with a record victory in last Assembly polls.
Though the BJP has no MLA it is gradually gaining ground both the Khasi Hills and in Garo Hills. At one point of time it had three MLAs including A L Hek who deserted the party to join Congress, and is now a cabinet Minister. Loss of party Government at the Centre has also caused huge problems for the party in Meghalaya and other Congress-ruled states.
Hek who has his contacts in the right places in BJP, can be a rallying point when the party wants to topple the Congress Government. At the ground level Congress M.L.As are neither happy  with the Government nor with the party .
Further, the Chief Minister has not been given permission to reshuffle his three-year old ministry leaving him in a piquant situation. The only factor favourable to Mukul Sangma seems to be that there is no alternative to him right now in the Khasi Hills, even though the Shillong MP Vincent H Pala has openly sided with the CEM.
The AICC has so far managed to keep on hold any decision on the Meghalaya dissidence by placating both rebel MLAs and Ministers . But a reversal in Assam polls  and in the forthcoming  bypoll in Tura Lok Sabha constituency (caused due to demise of veteran Purno Agitok Sangma) are sure to cast their shadow over the brittle political mosaic of Meghalaya.

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