Shillong, March 10: Legislators of the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) will abstain from attending a special session of the Meghalaya Assembly that will elect a new Speaker tomorrow.
The HSPDP has four legislators in the House — Hoping Stone Lyngdoh, Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, Phlastingwell Pangniang and Witting Mawsor.
“We will abstain from attending the special session tomorrow as a token of protest against the selection of a non-indigenous legislator for the post of Speaker,” Basaiawmoit told this correspondent.
The Congress has fielded former power minister Abu Taher Mondal for the Speaker’s office.
The legislator from Phulbari is set to be elected unopposed to the constitutional post after the nomination papers of Basaiawmoit were found to be invalid.
Mondal, who is seen as a loyalist of chief minister Mukul M. Sangma, will become the 15th Speaker of the ninth state Assembly, and the first legislator from among the non-indigenous community of Meghalaya to hold the constitutional post.
Mondal’s selection was also opposed by the Federation of Khasi-Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP), a pressure group. The group had also sent a letter of protest to PCC chief D.D. Lapang.
Lapang said it was not the party per se, but the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), under the leadership of Sangma, that had selected Mondal for the post.
“I do not know anything about the letter; I am yet to receive it. He (Mondal) was selected by the CLP and it would better if you speak to the CLP leader,” the PCC chief said over phone.
Both Basaiawmoit and the FKJGP had said it was inappropriate for Meghalaya, a tribal state, to have a non-indigenous legislator as Speaker of the Assembly.
Apart from the FKJGP, the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) has also stepped in to oppose Mondal’s selection.
The general secretary of the KSU, Auguster Jyrwa, said: “We do not subscribe to the decision to field a non-indigenous legislator for the post. The Speaker’s office is mandated by the Constitution and hence it will be appropriate if an indigenous legislator is selected for the office.”
There have been 14 legislators who had held the Speaker’s office from 1970 onwards. Of them, 13 were from Khasi or Jaintia or Garo communities and one from the Rabha community.
So far, only two legislators R.S. Lyngdoh and E.K. Mawlong held the office twice in their political career.
Charles Pyngrope, who was Speaker of the eighth Assembly, was defeated in the February polls by UDP candidate Jemino Mawthoh.