Mukul Sangma, who steered Congress to help it retain power in Meghalaya, is set to become the chief minister for a second straight term after he was elected as leader of its legislature party on Friday.
Though the Congress fell two short of an absolute majority, 47-year-old Sangma was poised to form the government in the northeast state after eight Independent MLAs assured the party of "unconditional" support besides getting the letter of support from the Nationalist Congress Party which won two seats.
Mukul is meeting Governor R S Mooshahary to stake claim to form the government, the process of which is likely to be completed in a day or two, a Congress leader said.
Blunting the challenge posed by Meghalaya strongman P A Sangma, the Congress-led by Mukul Sangma emerged as the single largest party bagging 29 seats in a House of 60, getting four more seats than in the previous elections.
With 10 non-Congress MLAs backing it, the Congress is comfortably placed to form the government with the strength of the party and its supporters going up to 39.
Mukul, who will be the 23rd chief minister of Meghalaya, which was formed in 1972, said the NCP has sent its letter of support to the Congress. 13 Independents were successful in the assembly polls whose results were declared on Thursday.
Congress chief in Meghalaya and former chief minister D D Lapang, who chaired the CLP meeting said, "Mukul Sangma has been elected unanimously as the leader of the CLP and the Congress high command has approved of this."
Union Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs and senior Congress leader Vayalar Ravi, who was in Shillong to oversee the government formation along with All India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of Meghalaya Mukul Wasnik and Sanjay Bhapna, said he was "confident" that Mukul would be the chief minister for a full five-year term.
Congress sources said the party high command had reposed confidence in Mukul after his impressive performance in the Garo Hills, once considered to be the bastion of P A Sangma.
The Congress won 13 seats from the Garo Hills region while the P A Sangma-led tribal centric National Peoples’ Party could get only two seats. Sangma’s NCP won 15 seats in 2008. Mukul Sang,a won from Ampati seat for the fifth time in a row, defeating his NPP rival Clement G Momin. Mukul's wife D D Shira and brother Zenith Sangma won from their respective constituencies in the Garo Hills.