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Home > News > Report

Meghalaya's story: Six govts,
four CMs in five years


Vinayak Ganapathy in Shillong | February 13, 2003 20:04 IST

Six governments. Four chief ministers. All in a span of five years. That's the story of Meghalaya assembly since 1998.

The outgoing government is headed by F A Khaonglam, a medical practitioner elected as an independent from Shora (Cherrapunjee) constituency.

If ever there was an example needed to show how small state assemblies are open to political manipulation and horse trading, you don't have to look beyond Meghalaya.

Of the 60 MLAs that voters in this picturesque state in the north-east had elected in 1998, only two could not become ministers in the last five years.

None of the governments lasted more than two years.

The shortest tenure, 12 days, was of the first government headed by Salenseng C Marak of the Congress.

No party is a political untouchable here. Congress shares power with the Bharatiya Janata Party. One man, B B Lyngdoh, became chief minister thrice heading three different political combinations.

Welcome to Meghalaya where political ideology holds no meaning. And political loyalties are unheard of. Where parties are formed and broken up overnight. Where almost all alphabets of the English language are used to string together abbreviations for newly-formed parties and alliances. Sample this: UDP, HSPDP, MDP, KHNAM. All names of political parties and alliance that are contesting the Meghalaya election this time.

Just take a look at the governments and chief ministers in the state since 1998.

ؠ Salseng C Marak of the Congress with 25 MLAs became chief minister with the support of Hill State Peoples Democratic Party and some independents. His government lasted just 13 days.

ؠ B B Lyngdoh of UDP with 20 MLAs and support of HSPDP and Independents replaced Marak

ؠ Lyngdoh lost HSPDP and Independents' support but got the Congress and the BJP (three MLAs) to back him.

ؠ Next Lyngdoh dumped the Congress in NCP's favour. BJP continued in the government.

ؠ Tired of Lyngdoh's inability to steer the shaky coalition, UDP's E K Mawlong became chief minister. Lasted the longest two years.

ؠ F A Khaonglam, elected as an Independent, takes the chief minister's post as a compromise candidate. He is supported by 56 MLAs belonging to the Congress, the NCP, the UDP, the breakaway UDP and Independents. Only three BJP MLAs and one legislator of the Garo National Council keep out of the government.

Today Khaonglam is back in HSPDP and is a bitter critic of NCP. That's Meghalaya politics for you. No one, therefore, is willing to hazard a guess as to who will form the next government in this tiny state or who will be the next chief minister. As Khaonglam told this correspondent: "I am a living example about politics being the art of possible. Anyone can become chief minister here."



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