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Meghalaya’s main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) must have been shy of raising its voice against its former leader Ampareen Lyngdoh, who has been named in the education scam. The party has finally made a statement demanding her resignation and institution of a new and independent probe into the scam. A top education official accused her of directing his department to tamper with marks of interview for post of primary school teachers. The state government had to cancel appointments of 156 teachers, who were appointed by illegal means. The government act came following a high court order in this regard. Although the education official JD Sangma has been implicated in the scam, the then education minister has gone scot free. The CBI, before which the official deposed and named the minister, did not even bother to question her. It is another issue that as to why the official sinned even if he had the “blessings” of the minister. He must have eyed some “benefits” as well. But what is still shocking is the non-trial of the minister so far. What has prevented the government from taking up a suo motto case on the basis of the CBI report? Instead, it decided to conduct a family (read high level scrutiny committee) trial leading to an obvious clean chit to the minister.

The relative silence of the political parties in this scam is palpable. Does UDP still have some empathy with the then lone woman MLA in the 60-member House? It was Ampareen Lyngdoh, whose shifting of allegiance to the Congress from the UDP, was a major factor of the fall of the then UDP-NCP combine Mehgalaya People’s Alliance government in 2009. The UDP, interestingly, has now referred to an FIR filed by social activist Agnes Kharshiing seeking punishment to Ampareen and other politicians involved in the scam. The state’s biggest regional party, however, is cautious about not ruffling too many feathers before the election. It gave a clean shit to the politicians who have recommended dozens of “own” candidates for appointment as teachers, saying “there is nothing wrong in recommending names”. Nevertheless, no commoner can digest a politician recommending dozens of names sans any favour. One of them had the audacity to recommend as many as 37 names. Though the UDP maintains that it was up to the authorities concerned to take the final call, have we ever seen an official daring to defy a minister or top politician’s recommendation? While justice in the education scam seems to be far away, the solace is that political parties still consider it to be an election issue among other “important” ones.

(Published as editorial in The Megalaya Guardian on January 31)