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Council extension move irks NPP

Shillong, Aug. 6: The Opposition National People’s Party (NPP) today slammed Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma on the decision to extend the term of the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) by another six months.

The NPP demanded that elections to the council should be held immediately.

“We strongly condemn the decision of the government to extend the term of the council for another six months. It is not only undemocratic and unconstitutional but also politically motivated and therefore completely unjustified,” NPP spokesperson and legislator James P.K. Sangma said in a statement.

He alleged the decision only exposed the “nefarious design” of the chief minister “who is doing all this solely for his self-protection and political survival”.

On Friday, the government had extended the council’s term as it still awaits the approval from the Centre on the peace pact with the ANVC.

The Centre had only approved the “agreed text for settlement”, which was arrived at with the outfit in January last year.

The signing of the “memorandum of settlement” is pending.

The breakaway faction of the ANVC was also part of the settlement.

The tenure of the Garo hills council was first extended for six months with effect from February 18 this year, which is scheduled to expire on August 17.

Since elections cannot be held in a short span of time, the Mukul Sangma cabinet decided to extend its tenure by another six months.

“The government wanted to complete the peace process and the NDA government has given indications that the peace process would be completed very soon,” the chief minister had said.

However, countering the chief minister, the NPP legislator said according to the Constitution, the term of an autonomous district council can be extended only on the grounds of a proclamation of an emergency and if a situation arises in the opinion of the governor, which render the holding of elections impracticable.

“At present, there is no proclamation of emergency in the country. There is no war, no natural calamity, no constitutional or financial crisis, no political turmoil and no such similar situation, which will render holding of elections impractical,” James said.

He said the extension of the council’s tenure was uncalled for and politically and personally motivated.