Sangma reshuffles cabinet, drops three senior ministers


Shillong : Seeking to put an end to the rebellion in the ruling Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Tuesday reshuffled his cabinet by inducting three new faces in his ministry.

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Governor R.S. Mooshahary administered the oaths of office and secrecy to the newly-inducted ministers at a simple function organised in the Darbar Hall of Raj Bhavan in the morning.

Sangma Monday evening had submitted the names of four Congress legislators — S.W. Rymbai, Shitlang Pale, Saleng Sangma and Bharatiya Janata Party leader-turned-Congress legislator Alexander Hek — to Mooshahary to be inducted in the ministry.

Rymbai, however, failed to turn up at the Darbar Hall to take oath as a cabinet minister.

“Rymbai has informed the Raj Bhavan that he is not well, but he will be sworn-in,” the chief minister told IANS.

On his arrival from New Delhi Monday evening, Sangma axed his four cabinet ministers Prestone Tynsong, Frankenstein W. Momin, Augustine D. Marak and Founder Strong Cajee, who have demanded his ouster as chief minister.

The cabinet reshuffle came about after Sangma’s deputy Rowell Lyngdoh announced last week that Sangma has lost the support of a majority of the 28 legislators.

Congress general secretary and state in-charge Dhani Ram Shandil said the reshuffle was aimed at strengthening the ruling coalition government.

“The party leadership has taken a decision and the grievances of our legislators would also be resolved in an amicable way,” Shandil said.

However, the rebel Congress legislators termed the reshuffle as “Sangma’s last bugle”.

“The real fight (for removal of Sangma as chief minister) will begin now. We have lost confidence in his leadership,” former community and rural development minister Frankenstein W. Momin said.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has invited the rebel Congress legislators led by former chief minister D.D. Lapang to meet her Tuesday.

The rebel Congress legislators are demanding Sangma’s removal, saying they were not happy with “his autocratic style of functioning”. Sangma was sworn-in chief minister April 21, 2010.

The Congress enjoys the support of nine United Democratic Party (UDP) members. The Nationalist Congress Party, the main opposition, has 15 members in the 60-seat assembly.

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 a full five-year term.