SHILLONG: Conrad Sangma, the 40-year-old chief of the National People’s Party (NPP), took oath at 10.30 this morning as the new chief minster of Meghalaya at the head of a five-party coalition. Eleven other ministers also took oath this morning. The BJP is one of the partners and party chief Amit Shah and union Home Minister Rajnath Singh are expected to attend the oath ceremony in state capital Shillong.
Minutes after he picked up his invite from Meghalaya’s Raj Bhavan on Sunday to take oath today, Conrad Sangma had admitted that it wasn’t going to be easy running a coalition government.
“It is never easy,” Mr Sangma, the son of former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma, had told NDTV, but said he hoped that the the coalition led by his NPP would deliver on its mandate. Even he, however, would not have seen his first challenge appear less than 24 hours later.
The Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) – one of the coalition partners – has threatened to boycott Mr Sangma’s swearing-in ceremony. On Monday, Ardent Basaiawmoit, president of the HSPDP objected to Mr Sangma, a Lok Sabha member, being named to be the alliance’s chief minister, without consulting all constituents.
Conrad Sangma said, “In a democratic process , everyone has a right to express their views . And the HSPDP chief was right in expressing what he felt. But there is also a parliamentary party of the HSPDP and ultimately they are with us.”
Conrad Sangma’s NPP has won 19 seats in the assembly elections and has the support of six legislators from the United Democratic Party, four from People’s Democratic Front (PDF), and two each from the HSPDP and the BJP, besides an Independent lawmaker Samuel Sangma.
Mr Basaiawmoit said there was no need for the BJP to be part of the coalition when Meghalaya’s regional parties had the numbers to form the government on their own.
“Our stand right from before the election was to have a non-Congress non-BJP government. We now see there is a possibility to have such a government where the NPP-led coalition could have easily been formed with 32 MLAs,” Mr Basaiawmoit said, according to news agency PTI.
He also questioned the choice of Mr Sangma as the next chief minister when even the NPP had projected another leader, Prestone Tynsong, as the party’s presumptive chief minister.
Mr Basaiawmoit later led his party leaders to the residence of United Democratic Party president Donkupar Roy expressing “disappointment and disagreement” to the proposal made by the UDP that Conrad Sangma should be the CM.
“This decision was taken unilaterally by the UDP and without consulting us. It is the job of the alliance to decide who should lead the government,” he said.
No party won a majority in Meghalaya, but the Congress emerged as the largest party winning 21 seats in the assembly election, results for which were announced on Saturday. But the party’s effective strength is 20 since outgoing chief minister Mukul Sangma had won from two seats. Since polling on one seat was cancelled due to the death of a candidate, Conrad Sangma for now only needs 30 members for a majority with the current strength of the House at 59. His coalition has 34.