Lapang flies again to Delhi amid political crisis


Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister D.D. Lapang Tuesday dashed off to New Delhi – the second time in three weeks – to consult Congress leaders amid growing demand for a leadership change in the state.

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“I am going to meet Congress leaders and tell them about the political situation in the state,” Lapang told IANS.

Amid growing demands for his ouster, Lapang met Ahmed Patel, the political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi March 17.

At least 16 rebels out of the party’s 28 legislators in the 60-member assembly have demanded Lapang’s removal on charges that the state has not made any progress under his leadership. The rebels have reportedly projected assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope as Lapang’s replacement.

“I don’t want to comment on their demand. They have the right to demand, but it is the party high command which will decide on the issue,” Lapang said.

The rebel legislators met Patel, the party’s Meghalaya in-charge Luizinho Faleiro, and other leaders March 31.

Lapang, however, reiterated that he would step down only if it was proved that he had lost the support of a majority of the legislators.

“I am a disciplined Congressman and I will be guided by the decision of the party high command,” he said.

Asked for his response to the rebels’ demand, Pyngrope told IANS: “It is their opinion and I have no comment.”

“As Speaker, I have to play a non-partisan role as far as the emerging political developments are concerned,” he said.

Asked if his party high command directs him to replace Lapang, Pyngrope, however, said that he “will have to abide by the party’s directives which party leaders feel are in the interest of the state”.

Political instability appears to have become a permanent feature in Meghalaya, which has seen three governments since the March 2008 election.

Lapang was sworn in chief minister of a Congress-led coalition government May 13, 2009, after the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-United Democratic Party (UDP) five-party coalition government was dismissed and the state brought under president’s rule.

The Congress enjoys the support of nine UDP members. The NCP, the main opposition, has 15 members.

Meghalaya has seen nine governments with varied combinations, resulting in eight chief ministers, between 1998 and 2009. Since Meghalaya attained statehood in 1972, only two chief ministers have completed their five-year terms.