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Oust-Mukul team meets Sonia

- Dissident leaders hope for change

Shillong, Aug. 27: Dissident Congress legislators of Meghalaya are “optimistic” of a change of leadership in the state following their meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi today.

Former chief ministers D.D. Lapang and Salseng C. Marak along with state transport minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh met Sonia at 10 Janpath to “apprise” her of the prevailing political developments and the law and order situation in Meghalaya.

Speaking over phone, Marak said Sonia was apprised of the current situation in the state, particularly with reference to the law and order situation in the Garo hills region and the political development.

To a pointed query, Marak, who had served as chief minister for a full five-year term (1993-1998), said Sonia was also briefed about the “dissidence” within the Congress camp.

With 29 legislators in its fold, there are voices of dissent against chief minister Mukul Sangma. The dissident legislators have also been reportedly trying to convince the AICC leadership to oust Sangma from his chair.

On whether the Meghalaya Congress would see a leadership change, Marak said: “It (leadership change) may not be immediate, but we are optimistic that there would be a change.” He, however, said it would be up to the party “high command” to take the decisions following today’s discussion.

In a statement sent on behalf of Lapang it was pointed out during the meeting with Sonia, that lasted for more than 30 minutes, the Congress leaders exchanged views on the current political situation, including the “decline and decay of the Congress party at all levels in the state”.

“She (Sonia Gandhi) gave a patient hearing to the stalwarts from the state. The leaders who came out of the meeting were optimistic that steps would now follow to remedy the situation in the state that include change of the present leadership,” the statement added.

For nearly two months now, several legislators, both from the pro and anti-Mukul Sangma camps, have been frequently flying to New Delhi in a bid to seek audience with AICC leaders to bolster their prospects.

Earlier this month, Lapang and other leaders had also met Sonia and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to apprise them of the way the present Congress government is functioning which has allegedly led to dissatisfaction, insecurity, and mushrooming of militant outfits.

Lapang, who is also the Meghalaya PCC chief and his team had earlier reported to the AICC leadership that the relationship between ministers, legislators and senior party leaders has “deteriorated” in view of the absence of proper leadership at the government level.

Following the dissident activities, there were reports doing the rounds that transport minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh, and forest and environment minister Prestone Tynsong could be dropped from the Sangma cabinet.

Dissidence in Meghalaya politics, especially within the Congress, is an old business. Quite a few chief ministers, including Lapang, had been ousted as the dissenting voices were in a majority.

In 2011, dissident Congress legislators had made a move to oust Sangma from the chief minister’s office, but the party “high command” had clearly put its foot down.

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