It was always there, but, may be, the time was not ripe for the leadership crisis in Meghalaya to raise its ugly head, once again. The Mukul Sangma ouster move was at its peak a couple of months before the Lok Sabha elections this year. Elections were a savior for the so-called dictatorial chief minister. The Congress did not want to make a further dent in its image by effecting changes in the leadership in Meghalaya. However, the decision did not prove beneficial since the party could not wrest Tura seat from Purno Sangma despite strong hope and Mukul Sangma’s rigorous election campaign for young Daryl William Momin. However, much to the chief minister’s relief, the fight among the Congress leaders did not come out in the open immediately after the election. Probably, no leader in the dissident group took the courage to take on the articulate leader. But the fire was always there, within. And, the flames are visible now.
Besides the lack of an alternative for Mukul Sangma in the Congress, the dissidents had another major weak point – there was no serious and specific fault in his governance. Even if there are some fault lines like his ‘undue’ protection to Ampareen Lyngdoh even after the CBI naming her in the education scam and the Supreme Court case against his ‘controversial’ ST status, none in the Congress dare raised these issues since they might boomerang. Post election, the dissidents could have raised a hue and cry over the party’s defeat in Tura, but the party’s national humiliation did not leave any room for them to speak ills about Mukul Sangma before Sonia Gandhi or any other AICC leader.
There was no strong weapon with the dissidents against the chief minister till the ban on coal mining by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) changed the political scene. On a careful observation, there exist two conglomerates working for the interest of the mine owners and traders against the NGT ban. Both the organizations, with strong representations from Jaintia Hills, raised the same issue before the government but on different platforms. They never met together. Chief minister Mukul Sangma wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking exemption for the state from NGT’s purview. A few days later, a Congress delegation (without Mukul) went to meet the President with the same demand. All these show a vertical split in the Congress. But for a leadership change to take place, a lot of political equations have to be solved behind closed doors. They don’t have any connection to public interest, but only personal interest. Helpless people can just wait and watch how their elected representatives are spending public money and time in fighting for their chairs.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on August 9, 2014)