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Defiant Rymbai refuses to vacate Meghalaya CM post
March 09, 2007 22:51 IST
A defiant Meghalaya Chief Minister J D Rymbai on Friday refused to step down from his post despite being asked to do so by the central leadership of the Congress and said he was ready to face expulsion from the party.
Rymbai announced his decision at a press conference in his residence in Shillong after he received support from the constituents of the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance coalition.
He denied media reports that he would step down to settle the issue of leadership, which has been dogging the Congress and caused factionalism since the time of his predecessor, D D Lapang.
Rymbai, who held a meeting with the partners of the coalition -- United Democratic Party, Khun Hynniewtrep Awakening Movement (Khnam) and Meghalaya Democratic Party -- was promised full support by the regional parties.
Besides the coalition partners, Rymbai met his loyalists in the Congress, including Home Minister R G Lyngdoh, Urban Affairs Minister Prestone Tynsong and Congress Legislature Party secretary Charles Pyngrope.
Rymbai was asked by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to step down on March 6 when he was in New Delhi for a Planning Commission meeting.
Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Donkupar Roy, who is also the president of the UDP, said his party was not in favour of frequent changes of leadership in the state as this would affect administration and development.
Senior Congress leaders Oscar Fernandes and Ved Prakash had on February 26 verbally asked Rymbai to step down, but he had refused and sought to see 'papers' from Sonia before demitting office.
Rymbai succeeded Lapang on June 15 last year after a demand for a change in leadership by Congress legislators, but the dissidence in the party did not end there. Within days of handing over power to Rymbai, a group of Lapang's supporters renewed their demand for a change of leadership and his reinstatement.
On January 17, Congress legislators voted by secret ballot, as directed by their central leadership, to elect a new leader of the Congress Legislature Party to settle the leadership issue once and for all. The two contenders were Rymbai and Lapang. But the result was not declared by Fernandes and Prakash, who were present at the voting. The outcome of secret ballot is still unknown.