Meghalaya Congress boycotts governor over tweet

Roy was greeted by empty Opposition benches as he entered the House to deliver his maiden address

By Our Correspondent in Shillong
  • Published 9.03.19, 12:12 AM
  • Updated 9.03.19, 12:12 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Empty chairs in the Meghalaya Assembly on Friday Picture by UB Photos

The Opposition Congress, in an unprecedented move, on Friday boycotted the address of governor Tathagata Roy in the Meghalaya Assembly for his tweet backing the boycott of “everything Kashmiri” following the Pulwama terror attack.

Roy, who was transferred to Meghalaya from Tripura last year, was greeted by empty Opposition benches as he entered the House to deliver his maiden address.

Minutes before the governor arrived at the temporary Assembly complex, leader of the Opposition Mukul Sangma and other Congress legislators announced that they would boycott the governor’s address, a customary practice where the head of state outlines the programmes, policies, achievements and plans of the government on the first day of every budget session.

Keeping with the tradition of Meghalaya Assembly, the Opposition did not resort to pandemonium. The silent boycott was intended to send a deafening message against any attempt to divide the country. “With a very heavy heart we would like to share our agony and anger in respect of the narrative that was generated by the governor. You must have seen his tweet on February 19 where immediately after the incident in Kashmir, he said all Kashmiri goods should be boycotted and people should not visit Kashmir,” Mukul told reporters.

After the February 14 attack that killed 40 CRPF jawans, Roy had tweeted: “An appeal from a retired colonel of the Indian Army: Don’t visit Kashmir, don’t go to Amarnath for the next 2 years. Don’t buy articles from Kashmir emporia or Kashmiri tradesman who come every winter. Boycott everything Kashmiri. I am inclined to agree.”

Mukul asked, “Does it augur well for the nation when a person who is holding a constitutional post not less than a governor of a state can engage in this kind of message which is capable of creating a rift among the citizens?”

Referring to the alleged harassment of Kashmiris in some parts of the country after the attack, Mukul said the nation’s fight was against terrorists and not against people.

“If there is a terrorist attack in the Northeast, will such people like the Meghalaya government tell the country to boycott the Northeast or boycott goods of Northeast?” he asked.

Mukul said such people were dividing the country and trying to give impetus to anti-national forces. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should have removed Roy from his office “in the best interest of the nation to send a strong message and to vindicate what he said to the country”. Modi had earlier said that the fight was for Kashmir and not against Kashmiris.

The treasury bench, led by chief minister Conrad K. Sangma, was apparently surprised at the empty benches.

Flanked by Speaker Donkupar Roy, the governor went on to read his 35-page address.

After the speech, the Opposition members also boycotted the customary photo session with the governor.