Shillong, March 10: Meghalaya chief minister J.D. Rymbai resigned today and his predecessor D.D. Lapang returned to power.
In a day marked by high drama, Rymbai caved in to AICC president Sonia Gandhi’s pressure and submitted his resignation to Governor M.M. Jacob this morning.
Soon after Rymbai’s resignation, a beaming Lapang was sworn in as chief minister along with 10 other MLAs at the Raj Bhavan today.
Four of Rymbai’s loyalists — R.G. Lyngdoh, Charles Pyngrope, Manirul Islam and Prestone Tynsong — were sworn in, along with Lapang’s followers Mukul Sangma, Deborah Marak and Zenith Sangma. Nelang Lyngdoh will be sworn in later as he was not in Shillong.
United Democratic Party president Donkupar Roy, Meghalaya Democratic Party president Martle Mukhim and Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement president Paul Lyngdoh were also retained in Lapang’s ministry. The coalition partners reneged on the support they had pledged Rymbai.
A couple of weeks ago, Rymbai was asked to step down by AICC secretaries Oscar Fernandez and Ved Prakash. The stalemate has been continuing since then. It ended today, with another senior AICC member and Union minister for information and broadcasting Priya Ranjan Das Munshi hammering out “the right solution”.
Soon after his arrival in Shillong, Das Munshi met Rymbai and told him that he should not go against the wishes of the party high command as “it was not part of the Congress culture to do so”. Das Munshi is also said to have told Rymbai that he if defied the AICC’s directives, the party would be forced to expel him.
Rymbai himself told mediapersons that he stepped down so as to ensure that the upcoming budget session and the visit of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to Shillong on March 16 to address the session were not disturbed. It is believed that Das Munshi managed to convince him to step down by ensuring berths for Rymbai’s loyalists. “Rymbai is a very honest man and his services will be recognised by the party,” said a senior Congress leader in New Delhi, adds our special correspondent. He did not elaborate.
Several NGOs of Meghalaya have called an “indefinite night curfew” from Tuesday onwards in protest against Rymbai’s resignation. They have refused to accept the change in leadership, terming it a disturbing development in the state.