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Mukul parries queries on oust clamour

Shillong, Sept. 4: Chief minister Mukul Sangma today recalled Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Charge of the Light Brigade when journalists sought his comments on the tussle within the Congress to oust him from the chair.

Half a league, half a league,/Half a league onward,/All in the valley of Death/Rode the six hundred./"Forward, the Light Brigade!/"Charge for the guns!" he said: Into the valley of Death/Rode the six hundred... When can their glory fade?/O the wild charge they made!/All the world wondered./Honour the charge they made,/Honour the Light Brigade,/Noble six hundred.

Like his Assam counterpart Tarun Gogoi, Sangma has maintained silence on the fresh bouts of rebellion within his party by a section of legislators who do not wish him to continue as chief minister. But today, he quoted Tennyson.

The Charge of the Light Brigade was a charge of British light cavalry led by Lord Cardigan against Russian forces during the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854 in the Crimean War.

"You have read the poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. Our job is like that. Ours is to do and do to achieve the objective and to respond to the aspirations and expectations of the people. Focus, focus, focus and then deliver as per the aspirations and expectations of the people because they deserve that," Sangma said.

While recalling the poem, Sangma is also perhaps gearing up for the crucial Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting proposed to be held in the presence of AICC general secretary in-charge of Meghalaya, Luizinho Faleiro, here tomorrow.

Faleiro, a former Goa chief minister who has been tipped to take over as the new president of the Goa PCC soon, will visit Meghalaya tomorrow. Political observers foresee the trip as a "farewell visit" to this hill state. If that is the case, Faleiro may not have much say on the present situation though in his capacity as AICC general secretary, he might try to iron out the differences within the CLP.

Sangma's detractors within the 29-member CLP had met AICC president Sonia Gandhi and AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi to lodge complaints against the chief minister.

Sangma's intention in quoting The Charge of the Light Brigade in the context of the ongoing tussle in the CLP was an apparent hint that he and his "troops" would march forward under his leadership despite the odds.

Asked if he would convene a CLP meeting during Faleiro's visit, Sangma said CLP meetings have been convened on a number of occasions and "we will also have it tomorrow".

To a question on rumours that some ministers would be axed for having gone to meet Sonia to complain against his leadership and the government's style of functioning, the chief minister refused to reply. "I do not respond to rumours. Those are internal matters of the party," he said.

Sangma also did not want to react to the comments made by government chief whip Ronnie V. Lyngdoh against former chief minister and veteran Congress leader Salseng C. Marak for requesting the AICC to depute a senior leader who is impartial to assess the ground reality of the political situation.

To a query on whether the present Congress-led MUA-II government would last till 2018 under his leadership, Sangma shot back, saying, "Have I not shown in the past?"

Whether he would continue as chief minister for the full five years of his term, Sangma asked, "Have I not shown it in the past? Had the Congress not demonstrated it in the past? We have been questioned what has this Congress government done, and I have told someone that this Congress government has given stability. It is crucial to allow us to focus on our work to enable us to deliver in sync with the aspiration and expectation of the people."

Sangma, who took over as chief minister for the first time on April 20, 2010, resumed the post for the second time on March 5, 2013 after Congress emerged as the single largest party winning 29 out of 60 seats in the Assembly polls held in February 2013.

With the Congress MLAs in the dissident camp unlikely to give up on their demand to oust Sangma, only time will tell whether Sangma could survive the test and remain in the saddle.


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