SHILLONG: Within days of shooting off a letter of discontent against Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues by eight Congress legislators, there are reports that the names of three Cabinet ministers — Deborah Marak, HDR Lyngdoh and Rowell Lyngdoh – have been forwarded to the High Command by the Chief Minister for dropping them from the Cabinet.
The move is speculated as a bid to accommodate former Deputy Speaker and NCP Cabinet aspirant Sanbor Shullai, Congress members, Martin Danggo and Ronnie Lyngdoh (both of Congress) to fulfill the promises to rewarding them for their role in defeating the no- confidence motion against the Assembly Speaker AT Mondal.
Party sources on Sunday said that with the continued rebellion against the style and functioning of the Chief Minister, he finds that by dropping three ministers, he would be able to quell dissidence for the time being.
However, sources said that the Congress High Command is not willing to effect any change in the cabinet as in the past, the Congress President Sonia Gandhi had not given any green signal to the Chief Minister when he had proposed to drop ministers in the past.
It may be recalled that Shullai resigned from the post of Deputy Speaker two days before the no Confidence motion against the Speaker with the pressure from the Chief Minister and the Speaker after sensing that Shullai was ready to help the Opposition by way of putting the no confidence motion to voice vote — a prospect which would have sealed the fate of the speaker through rampant cross voting. The fear was that it would have made the CM’s position extremely vulnerable.
However, the MUA Government ensured that the motion is put to voice vote and hence Ronnie Lyngdoh, who was one of the Chairmen in the panel chaired the House and the motion against the Speaker was defeated by voice vote. As a reward, the Chief Minister offered him a cabinet berth.
Prior to this, another Congress dissident member, Martin Danggo was approached by the state Congress leadership to ensure the defeat of the no confidence motion with an offer of cabinet berth for him if he remained absent from the House citing illness.
Since Danggo was the first in the list of panel of Chairmen, he was to Chair the House in the absence of Deputy Speaker. But since he was a critique of the Chief Minister, he was compelled to remain absent in the session to enable the next in line in the panel of Chairman Ronnie Lyngdoh, who is known to be close to the Chief Minister, to chair the session and save the day for MUA.
Though Shullai, Danggo and Ronnie were promised cabinet berths within next six months, observers say the task is easier said than done for the Chief Minister with the growing dissidence in the Congress Legislature Party.
The fear is that the three dropped Ministers would rally behind the Opposition forces and other Congress dissidents to destabilize political equation in the State.
Moreover, a party source said that there will be dissatisfaction among the Congress legislators if Shullai from NCP is accommodated in the ministry ignoring the claims of Congress aspirants.
All in all, it is another critical test for the Chief Minister to keep the dissidents at bay and pander to the coalition partners.