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Cong deputes Mukul Wasnik to do ‘fire-fighting’

Vincent Pala, ‘rebel’ Congress leader meet Sonia

From C K Nayak

NEW DELHI: Facing a vertical split within the legislature party, the Congress high command is rushing veteran leader Mukul Wasnik to Shillong to gauge the mood of the party men and recommend remedial measures.
Wasnik, who was earlier in charge of the state, will reach Shillong on August 1 and meet each MLA individually unlike his counterpart CP Joshi, who only met Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and MPCC president DD Lapang, AICC sources said here on Tuesday.
Joshi, as present in charge of the state, might go along with Wasnik but his inept handling of the serious situation in the politically volatile state and the loss in Assam under his leadership have pushed him to the background.
Shillong MP Vincent H Pala, who has all along put his weight behind KHADC CEM P N Syiem, the rebel leader, met party president Sonia Gandhi at her residence on Tuesday. Pala was followed by another prominent dissident leader who did not want to be identified.
Pala could not be contacted since he was shuttling between Wasnik and Joshi till late in the night.
Wasnik would also meet MDCs, party leaders and leaders of the frontal organisations, the sources said.
He will gauge the mood among the party men on their demand for a change of leadership in the state protesting against the alleged dictatorial style of functioning of the chief minister, the sources said.
Wasnik is rushing to the troubled state to prevent an Arunachal Pradesh like situation in Meghalaya in the short term and Assam debacle in the long term, the party sources said.
The high command realised that if no fire fighting is done now the rebels with half a dozen dissident MLAs and ministers will form a party and ensure a crushing defeat for the Congress in the Assembly polls which are only a year away.
Lapang, who has been briefed accordingly, met Wasnik before he left on Tuesday. Pala too had a meeting with him but is tied up due to ongoing Parliament session, the sources said.
The MPCC President was reminded not to take any action against Syiem and also maintain status quo on the ‘one man one post issue’.
Earlier, it was ) decided to divest the three dissident ministers from their party posts.
The AICC received confirmed reports that at least six MLAs, several MDCs and top leaders of the party have decided to form a new party under the leadership of R G Lyngdoh and Syiem. Sonia Gandhi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi are also worried that this will deal a big blow to the party with Assembly polls a year away.
The party is also upset with the way the present AICC general secretary Joshi is handing the state of affairs and fears that Meghalaya might go the Assam way.
Several party leaders informed Sonia Gandhi about the whimsical and partisan way Joshi was handling the sensitive situation in Meghalaya.

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