It’s all back to square! If some of the dissidents’ words are to believe, the battle over leadership in the Congress-led government in Meghalaya is over, till expiry of the government’s term in 2018. Isn’t it too long a time for state like Meghalaya to have a smooth sailing for five long years? It has happened only once in the state’s history. Is Mukul Sangma going to break that jinx, of holding onto the CM’s post for five long years? It’s hard to predict anything given the history of political instability of the state. Assuming that Mukul’s chair is safe for the time being, this recurring phenomenon indicates only the shallow level of politics in the state. Let alone sincerity to the public they represent, these politicians even lack sincerity to their own profession.

Neighbouring Assam, now ruled by BJP-led alliance, last year saw a huge rift in the ruling Congress fuelled by growing difference between then chief minister Tarun  Gogoi and health/education minister Himanta Biswa Sharma. Unlike Meghalaya, the dissidence in Assam had some sort of sincerity which was appreciated by the BJP and tapped the potential at the right time. Himanta did not make himself a fool by “returning to the family” again. He stood his ground and effected a division in the Congress. He lied low for a couple of months after quitting his ministries before announcing his big leap to the BJP and the rest is history. Is there any Himanta in Meghalaya Congress? This question is not raised in the hope of seeing cracks in the grand old party. But this question is about political statesmanship and leadership.

The primary worry of the dissidents this time was the diminishing chance of their coming back to the assembly in 2018, given the back-to-back debacles of Congress in GHADC and Tura bye-elections under the leadership of Mukul Sangma. The Congress MLAs including ministers are somehow convinced that Mukul, who is still credited for the party’s winning over two dozen among 24 seats in Garo Hills, has become increasingly unpopular even in Garo Hills and he would not be able to keep the Congress boat floating in the state. Now that they have decided to “guarantee” Mukul the CM’s post till 2018, what has allayed their fear? Nothing, but they realised, although late, that they don’t have an alternative to replace Mukul. To have a leader in waging a battle is as basic as a school student would agree. But, in Meghalaya politics, most such battles start without anybody leading from the front. Ultimately it all depends on the “blessings” of the high command. Meghalaya politicians need to grow up!

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on June 2, 2016)

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