SHILLONG: Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) advisor and former chief minister, DD Lapang has tried to downplay the desertions of key party members including some legislators and maintained that the party stands united.
He told reporters at a Press conference at his residence on Tuesday, “Those who are not comfortable have gone away and those who went on their own could not take lock, stock and barrel with them as the original Congress supporters are there.”
Some of the party members who are set to leave the party are Prestone Tynsong, Sniawbhalang Dhar, Ngaitlang Dhar, Comingone Ymbon , Rowell Lyngdoh and AL Hek.
Commenting on the voices of dissension within the party calling for the replacement of chief minister Mukul Sangma, Lapang said that the change of leadership was discussed with the All India Congress Committee (AICC) but there was no consensus for the new leader.
Stating that the AICC cannot be blamed, he pointed to the disunity among the MLAs in projecting a new leader.
“They did not have unity, meaning, Dr Mukul Sangma still have the number how can you deny that?” adding that the AICC asked the rebels to find a consensus candidate.
“They exercised their mind and organized series of meetings and realised that they didn’t have the number and Dr Mukul Sangma still has the number,” Lapang said.
However, he admitted that the rebels projected him as the alternative leader. “No doubt they projected my name but it may not be consensus, if it is consensus, why should Dr Mukul get the number?” he said.
Lapang questioned the attitude of senior Congress member, Prestone Tynsong, who is proposed to join the National People’s Party (NPP), for his silence on the allegations that Sangma was dictatorial.
“Why did senior Cabinet minister Prestone Tynsong keep silent, why should he blame after he is dropped from the ministry, where are they? Why not mobilise 2-3 ministers and make a big shout. That was never done,” he said, adding that the rebels were the ones who praised Sangma stating that he is the best.
Faced with exodus of key party members, the beleaguered party is trying to put up new faces in its preparation for the Assembly elections, 2019 District Council elections and Lok Sabha elections.
Asked whether the crucial decision of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) was delayed, Lapang said, “It is not late. It is the demand of time.”
According to him, the AICC is very serious with the work of the party here in the state which prompted it to appoint four state co-ordinators who would likely spend most of their time in the state while the MPCC president has to go accompany them in their party visits across the state.
He maintained that he did not suggest any name to the AICC for the role of MPCC president. “It is a collective responsibility. It is a new set up. They have kept Vincent Pala as the working president.”
Health and age have caught up with Lapang
Lapang said that he met the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi on December 29 where h told Gandhi that he would be involved with the party in a “lighter way of work.”
“The physical running around is not very much involved. As a president your presence should be felt in every nook and corner,” he said, adding that if there is something wrong with the result the president should take the responsibility.
According to him, the AICC found it fit to keep him as advisor of the MPCC and the reshuffle in the state party by the AICC is for the benefit of the party.
Indicating his struggle with health issues and advancing age, Lapang told reporters on the heavy work load of a state party president starting with attending several meetings in a row in different places and not to by-passed any such meetings.
He added that a party president has to work round the clock and he has to take rest taking into consideration, the amount of travelling that comes with the responsibility.
“The work for the elections is extraordinarily difficult and has to work around the clock,” he said.
Regarding new faces to be put up Congress in the upcoming Assembly polls, Lapang cited the examples of Dr Jelington Ryndong who is set to face sitting MLA Prestone Tynsong, retired IAS officers, HM Shangpliang and Jopthiaw Lyngdoh will contest against PN Syiem and Sniawbhalang Dhar respectively, George Lyngdoh will face Ngaitlang Dhar etc.
Asked whether the exodus of the MLAs will have any negative, he said, “No negative impact even with the exodus of the party member. I believe in the principle that no one is indispensable.”