| Shillong Press Club president David Laitphlang pins a black badge on chief minister Mukul Sangma on Thursday to express solidarity with the journalist fraternity following the recent assault on Assam-based journalists. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Aug. 30: The Congress in Meghalaya, in spite of infighting within its rank and file, is hoping the people of the state will give a clear mandate to the party in the upcoming Assembly polls scheduled for February-March 2013.
Since the late 1970s, a single party has never led Meghalaya as the mandate in every election has been fractured, leading to instability at various intervals. Twenty governments ruling a state, which is only 40 years old, highlights this fact.
Dismissing reports that the Congress would forge an alliance with the NCP following the exit of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma, Meghalaya chief minister Mukul M. Sangma today asserted that the party would go it alone in the upcoming polls.
The chief minister’s statement comes in the wake of the fact that the party may go the Maharashtra way, where the NCP has a coalition with Con gress and also at the Centre. But unlike in Maharashtra, which has 289 Assembly seats, Meghalaya has only 60.
“In the context of Meghalaya, I think the Congress is strong enough to go it alone, like it has been doing in the past,” the chief minister told reporters today.
Stating that no official intimation had come to him for forging an alliance with NCP, Mukul Sangma claimed the absence of a tie-up is not because of the perceived tiff with Purno Sangma.
“Often it has been perceived that the tie-up between Congress and NCP (in Meghalaya) has not been happening because of the difference between me and Purno. This is not correct,” he said.
On whether his party high command would push for a pre-poll alliance with NCP, Mukul said, “If the discussion comes up at the AICC level, we will give our views. We have always been given space to decide in the context of the political situation in our state and the high command never imposes any decision.”
Advocating a single-party rule, the chief minister said the time has come for the state to have a government led by a single major party.
“If I feel the government has embarked on a number of initiatives to create a benchmark in respect of development, I am sure the people are politically mature and capable of deciding on their own,” he said in a bid to prove his government’s success during its two-year stint so far.
The chief minister also expressed confidence that the people would give a mandate to a party which is trying to fulfil their aspirations. “I foresee the people giving a clear mandate to the Congress,” he asserted.
The Congress has 28 legislators in the 60-member house. The party leads the Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government in coalition with United Democratic Party, Hill State People’s Democratic Party and Independent legislators.
Schoolteachers under the banner of the Khasi-Jaintia Deficit School Teachers Association (KJDSTA) and the Garo Hills Deficit School Teachers & Employees’ Association (GHDSTEA) will resume their agitation from tomorrow as the state government was yet to release their pending 30 per cent arrears.
The teachers had taken a two-day mass causal leave on August 16 and 17, but suspended the agitation after the state government requested them for two weeks’ time to release the arrears.
The arrears were to be paid according to the recommendations of the Meghalaya Fourth Pay Commission.
However, when the deadline ended today, the teachers did not receive any official intimation from the government.
“The second phase of our agitation will start tomorrow where deficit schoolteachers will stage a dharna from 9am to 1pm in their respective zones and district headquarters,” KJDSTA president E.D. Nongsiang said.
The teachers will carry black flags during the demonstration, he added.
He also said if the government fails to respond tomorrow, the teachers would continue with their agitation from Monday onwards.