In politics, a year is a very long time, to change colour. In fact, you can make several volte-face within that time. The public memory is short. You will be pardoned. And, the time is too long in Meghalaya, known for its unstable political history. Mukul Sangma will be the only second chief minister in the state’s history complete a five-year term at the helm, if he holds on to it till 2018. The shrewdness he showed so far, he looks like to achieve that feat. But his feat will not make Meghalaya a politically stable state. In fact it was his masterstroke that threw as many as six members of Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) out of their chair while one still clinging on to it. The Bill against MLAs holding ‘dual posts’ barred these elected representatives of the district council from holding two positions at a time. As they have to quit one, the obvious choice is the post of member of district council (MDC). The salary and perks of an MLA are much higher than that of an MDC. Their remaining term the district council is one year more than in the assembly, but it’s not enough advantage to quit the assembly seat.
Mukul Sangma’s justification for hurriedly bringing a Bill to end the dual post era is a PIL filed by the Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO). But there is always more than what meets the eye. No different in this case. The Bill came in the wake of a brewing political crisis within the Congress due to the hard line stand adopted by the KHADC chief PN Syiem, who heads a Congress-led coalition. Syiem, yet to quit his post in KHADC, is not entirely wrong in accusing the chief minister of targeting him because of his stand against the government on a couple of issues. Syiem, in fact, aligned with the voice of Opposition regional parties and pressure groups while accusing the government of ignoring the rights of indigenous people and traditional institutions.
It was a year ago that three regional parties formed an alliance with a strong anti-Congress stand. The coalition saw two chief executive members (CEMs) within one year and the reins going to Congress after a year! With four MDCs quitting their posts, the coalition broke apart and the remaining MDCs are now supporting the ‘cause’ of PN Syiem, who spoke of an ‘all-party’ executive committee (EC) to rule the Council. If he had to resign, Syiem would be the biggest loser. It remains to be seen if his calculations for an ‘all-party’ EC proves right in the coming days.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on October 3, 2015)