Mukul to meet Sonia on cabinet

andrew w. lyngdoh

Shillong, March 2: Outgoing chief minister Mukul M. Sangma, who was yesterday re-anointed as the Meghalaya Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, today left for New Delhi to obtain the consent of AICC president Sonia Gandhi on his council of ministers.

Since the law permits only 12 ministers in the council, it will not be an easy task for the Congress leadership to decide who should be inducted.

With 29 legislators in its kitty, the Congress leadership will have to be meticulous in choosing the 11 cabinet ministers to ensure among others, regional balance, adequate women's representation and a blend of youth and experience.

From the outgoing Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) ministry, apart from Sangma, the others who made a comeback to the Assembly include Rowell Lyngdoh, H.D.R. Lyngdoh, Prestone Tynsong, Abu Taher Mondal, M. Ampareen Lyngdoh, R.C. Laloo and Alexander L. Hek.

Apart from the above names, the Congress also has on its side senior leaders like former chief minister Salseng C. Marak, PCC president D.D. Lapang, PCC working president Deborah C. Marak and former Speaker Martin M. Danggo.

Sangma will hold consultations with Sonia Gandhi and her political secretary Ahmed Patel, apart from AICC leader and Union overseas Indian affairs minister Vayalar Ravi and AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik for the exercise.

"The prerogative to choose the 11 ministers has been left to Sangma. He will exercise his mind on who should be inducted into his team," a Congress legislator told The Telegraph.

Sangma's departure for New Delhi today ahead of the proposed swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday indicates that a full-fledged ministry will take oath of office and secrecy together with the CLP leader.

There have been occasions in the past where only the CLP leader was administered the oath of office while the other ministers took oath on a later date.

Sonia chose Sangma after the CLP authorised her to decide who should be its leader. He also met governor R.S. Mooshahary yesterday to stake claim for the formation of the new government.

The Congress has also received the support of at least 11 of the 13 Independent legislators and two NCP members while parties like the UDP, HSPDP, NPP and other Independents will occupy the Opposition benches.

The 11 Independents include Brigady Marak (Bajengdoba), Ashahel D. Shira (Rajabala), Rophul S. Marak (Rongara Siju), Michael Sangma (Tikrikilla), Stephanson Mukhim (Amlarem), Justine Dkhar (Khliehriat), Julias K. Dorphang (Mawhati), Hopeful Bamon (Sutnga Saipung), Robinus Syngkon (Mowkaiaw), Samuel M. Sangma (Baghmara) and David A. Nongrum (Mawryngkneng).

The NCP members include outgoing Deputy Speaker Sanbor Shullai who was elected from South Shillong constituency and Marthon Sangma from Mendipathar.

The eighth Meghalaya Assembly is likely to be dissolved on Monday.