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Woman set to chair Khasi council for first time

Shillong, March 3: A woman is set to chair the 62-year-old Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council — a first in the history of the institution.

Teilinia Thangkhiew, a member of the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), who was re-elected to the council from Mylliem constituency, was today chosen by the All Regional Parties’ Alliance to be the nominee for the chairperson’s seat.

From 1952, when the council came into being, male members have been occupying the seat. In the recently concluded elections, three women were elected to the council. Apart from the 29 elected members, the governor will nominate another member. If Thangkhiew were elected to the post on Thursday, the council chair will now have to be addressed as “Madam chairperson” unlike in the last 62 years where the address had always been “Mr chairman, Sir”.

Thangkhiew, 31, will probably be the youngest to chair the male-dominated council.

On Thursday, the House will also elect a chief executive member. Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit who gained his maiden entry into the council from Nongkrem constituency is set to grace the post. He also represents the constituency in the Assembly. The alliance, with 17 members, comprises the HSPDP, UDP, and the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM).

Yesterday, Independent member James Sylliang had withdrawn support from the alliance after initially pledging his support. However, Basaiawmoit, who is the alliance leader, said he was yet to receive Sylliang’s letter of withdrawal.

As of now along with Sylliang, the Congress with 10 members and a lone NCP member will occupy the Opposition bench in the council.

The party, however, is desperately trying hard to rope in members from the regional alliance so that it would be in a position to lead the executive committee. It is learnt that the Congress would put up candidates for elections to the posts of chairperson and chief executive member.

Thangkhiew said she was humbled by the alliance decision to field her for the chairperson’s post, but asserted that she was not “nervous” to chair the council.

In the outgoing council, she had the opportunity to occupy the chair in the absence of chairman and deputy chairman. She also said the current rules of procedure and conduct of business in the council require amendments to ensure that the participation from members would be more meaningful.