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Govt rejects holiday plea

- Garo hills MLA to take campaign to people

Shillong, March 13: The Meghalaya Assembly today outright rejected a resolution to declare the death anniversary of the state’s first chief minister Capt. Williamson A. Sangma as a holiday, prompting senior legislator Clifford R. Marak to declare that he would embark on an anti-Congress government campaign.

Tabling the resolution, Marak, who belongs to the Garo National Council (GNC), recalled the contributions made by the first chief minister and termed him “the father of Meghalaya”.

Capt. Sangma, who was leading the then All Party Hill Leaders’ Conference (APHLC), became the chief minister in April 1970 when Meghalaya was still an autonomous state. He continued in office after Meghalaya achieved statehood in January 1972.

In 1976, he joined the Congress and his last tenure as chief minister was from 1983 to 1988. Capt. Sangma had also served as Mizoram governor from July 1989 to February 1990.

Marak told the House that it would be apt for the state to honour Capt. Sangma by declaring his death anniversary a state holiday.

However, general administration department minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh, in his reply, said showing respect to the leader can be done by other means, not just by declaring his death anniversary as a holiday. Lyngdoh said the day could be observed by organising meaningful activities, which would be beneficial to the people.

In 2014, there are already 22 days of general holidays, two restricted holidays and three local holidays. Besides, he said, the state was losing precious working hours during agitation.

“We need to make the best use of the working hours as the state needs to reach the level of development which would be on a par with the more developed states in the country,” Lyngdoh said.

Irked by the response, Marak said, “If you consider him (Capt. Sangma) as unimportant, it is up to the government. But I will definitely go to the public and say that the Congress government does not respect Capt. Sangma.”

When Marak refused to withdraw the resolution, Speaker Abu Taher Mondal put the resolution to vote. It was defeated by voice vote.