|(Clockwise from top left) Vincent Pala,
Agatha Sangma, Ranee Narah and Ninong Ering
New Delhi/Shillong, Oct. 27: Meghalaya’s loss will be Assam and Arunachal’s gain in the much-anticipated rejig in the Union government tomorrow.
While NCP’s Tura MP and minister of state for rural development Agatha Sangma and Congress’s Shillong MP and minister of state for water resources Vincent H. Pala tendered their resignations today, Lakhimpur MP Ranee Narah and Arunachal East MP Ninong Ering are likely to bag minister of state berths.
While Assam will get richer, minister-wise, Meghalaya has been left empty-handed following the double resignation.
DoNER minister Paban Singh Ghatowar, an MP from Assam, will continue with his portfolio, sources said.
Pala submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister this afternoon, while Agatha did so late in the evening. “The PM told him (Pala) that Madam (Sonia Gandhi) had some other assignment for him in the party,” a source said.
While Pala, who was in Meghalaya, flew in this afternoon after receiving the quit signal from the high command, Ranee and Ering arrived this evening.
Agatha’s fate was sealed the day her father Purno A. Sangma contested, and fought hard, against UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee. The decision, however, was put off for a while in view of her continuance in the NCP, a UPA coalition partner.
Both Pala and Agatha had taken oath on May 28, 2009, soon after the UPA coalition was voted to power.
This evening, President Pranab Mukherjee accepted their resignations along with those of five others from the Union council of ministers based on the advice of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
NCP leader from Bihar Tariq Anwar will reportedly replace Agatha.
Ranee, on the other hand, fits in well with the selection of young leaders who are part of Congress heir apparent, Rahul Gandhi’s team, including Jyotiraditya Scindia, Manish Tewari and the current minister of state for home, Jitendra Singh, all of whom are expected to get minister of state berths with independent charge.
While Assam will have an additional minister, some important names in the Congress have been left out.
For one, Bhubaneswar Kalita may have expected a berth but no such move seems to be forthcoming. Though people close to Kalita said his name was apparently “considered”, the Congress leader said he was not in the know about any such development.
The fact that the Prime Minister is a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam has been fuelling expectations for more representation from the Northeast in the council of ministers.
Earlier in the day, Agatha said the NCP leadership had not given her any instruction to relinquish her post, ahead of the much-anticipated rejig in the Union government.
“No. I have not received any instructions from the party president (Sharad Pawar) or anything official. If my party president tells me, then I will put in my papers,” Agatha, who is camping in Garo hills, said when asked about her resignation from the Union ministry.
Representing Tura parliamentary seat, Agatha was made Union minister of state in the UPA-II government on May 28, 2009.
On the day she took oath as the youngest member of the government at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Agatha, who was 28 years old then, gained instant national prominence as she took the oath of office and secrecy in chaste Hindi.
Agatha, a lawyer-turned-politician, was first elected to the 14th Lok Sabha in a byelection in May 2008 after her father and former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma resigned from the seat following his election to the eighth Meghalaya Assembly.
Relations between Agatha and the NCP started souring soon after Sangma announced his plan to run for President.
Sangma had even resigned as a Meghalaya legislator and also from the NCP to contest the July 19 presidential elections, which he eventually lost to Pranab Mukherjee.
The veteran politician from Garo hills then decided to lead the National People’s Party (NPP), originally from Manipur, with a hope that he could play a larger role in New Delhi during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Sangma, Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar had got together in May 1999 to form the NCP after they were expelled from the party for challenging Sonia Gandhi’s right to become Prime Minister in view of her “foreign” origins.