SC to hear ‘minority govt’ case today
NEW DELHI/ SHILLONG: Even as the political circles are holding their nerves over the fate of the “minority government” led by DD Lapang, Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred the hearing of the petition filed by Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) against Governor SS Sidhu’s decision to invite the Congress to form the government till Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the apex court took up the matter but legal arguments against the Governor’s decision to swear in a “minority government” taken on Monday remained inconclusive. The Governor had asked Mr Lapang to prove the majority of his government on the floor of the House within ten days.
Appearing on behalf of the NCP-led Alliance before a bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, senior advocates Soli Sorabjee and Arun Jaitley contended that the Governor’s move was “illegal and unconstitutional.”
“The Governor cannot exercise any discretion when members constituting the majority are physically present before him. He is bound to invite the leader of such an alliance under Article 163 of the Constitution,” the petition filed by MPA secretary Conrad K Sangma said referring to Monday’s incident when NCP leader PA Sangma paraded 30 MLAs before the Governor.
However, former Chief Minister EK Mawlong, who had also extended support to MPA through a letter of support, could not be present due to his ill health.
According to the petition, the Governor had violated the recommendation of the Sarkaria Commission by inviting the Congress, having only 25 legislators in the 60-member House, to form the government.
The petition also referred to the apex court verdict declaring as null and void the decision of Bihar Governor in the “Nitish Kumar versus Government of India case 2006” when Nitish Kumar moved Supreme Court against the Governor’s decision to invite Lalu Prasad Yadav to form the government despite being in the minority.
Meanwhile, speaking to The Shillong Times on Tuesday, MPA Spokesperson Bindo M Lanong claimed that all the 31 legislators belonging to the Alliance were intact.
Downplaying rumours that Congress had convinced some of the legislators in MPA to come to its fold, Mr Lanong said, “We are determined to defeat the Congress government both in the Supreme Court and in the Assembly.” (With inputs from Our Reporter and PTI)
BSF hands over list of 141 militant camps to BDR
Shillong: BSF on Tuesday handed over a list of 141 camps of militant groups and leaders, including frontranking ULFA leader Paresh Barua operating in Bangladesh, to the BDR and sought its help to dismantle them.
The list was handed over by BSF Inspector General (Assam-Meghalaya Frontier) P K Mishra to the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) during the first round of the four-day conference between the two forces at the BSF frontier headquarters here.
“We have given a list of 141 camps of insurgent groups operating in Bangladesh along with the names of 116 rebel leaders and their 198 sympathisers, and asked for help to dismantle the camps,” Mishra told PTI.
He said to substantiate its case that ULFA, NSCN(IM) and other rebel groups like PLA, NLFT, UNLF and HNLC were operating from the neighbouring country, the BSF referred to the recent surrenders of some top HNLC and NSCN(IM) cadres, who had confessed to interrogators that their accomplices were in Bangladesh.
The self-styled ULFA ‘Commander-in-Chief’ Paresh Barua, its Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa and HNLC General Secretary Cheristerfield Thangkiew were among those whose names figured in the list, he said.
“We have impressed upon them that many of the insurgents, including Julius Dorphang of HNLC, who surrendered recently, admitted having camps in Bangladesh,” the senior BSF official said. “The camps are a threat to India and we asked the BDR to help dismantle them,” Mishra said.
While the BDR is learnt to have verbally denied the existence of militant camps, they did not give any official statement. Issues like trans-shipment of arms from across the border, infiltration, cross-border circulation of fake currency and smuggling, adverse possession of land by Bangladesh and expedition of border fencing work also came up for talks. “We have given the locations from where the fake currency is coming and furnished details of the intruders apprehended and smuggled goods seized,” Mishra said. (PTI)
Lapang to induct 3 Ind MLAs today
By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: The Congress bid to garner a working majority before the impending trial of strength received a shot in the arm on Tuesday as the three Independent legislators, who had pledged support to the party, formally associated with the party to form a new coalition, “Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA)”.
With Chief Minister DD Lapang facing a deadline of ten days to prove majority of his government on the floor of the House, the Congress-led alliance’s tally now stands at 28, still three short of the magic figure 31.
Meanwhile, all three Independent MLAs will be inducted into Cabinet on Wednesday at 11 a.m. The Congress strategy is to make sure that they do not give the slip, and at the same time send message to the vulnerable ones, if any, to join the bandwagon.
The new alliance with Congress’ Charles Pyngrope as chief whip and Independent Abu Taher Mondal as secretary was formed at a meeting at Mr Lapang’s residence here on Tuesday, aiming to rope in other regional parties or Independents to survive the floor test.
Two other Independents in the alliance are Limison A Sangma from Tikrikilla and Ismail R Marak from Rongram constituencies.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Lapang said, “We are confident to prove majority within ten days in the House.”
He, however, refused to divulge the names of those legislators who have “expressed willingness to join the MUA”.
He also parried a question over the writ petition filed by MPA in the Supreme Court against the Governor’s decision to invite him to form the government.
It may be noted that actual strength of MPA and MUA in the House would be known during election of the Speaker which is scheduled before the Assembly session.
MUA entrusts CM to ‘negotiate’
SHILLONG: The newly formed Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) has entrusted Chief Minister DD Lapang with the task of negotiating with regional parties ahead of the floor test in the Assembly due next week.
”As there are too many negotiators, the MUA has entrusted Mr Lapang to negotiate with the regional parties to prove the majority on the floor of the House,” Congress legislator Charles Pyngrope said after on Tuesday evening.
Mr Pyngrope said the Congress was open to have alliance, even with the NCP, already part of the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA).
”The door is open to all. We are a secular party and there are no untouchables. We hope to get the support of like-minded parties,” Mr Pyngrope asserted.
Cong misused gubernatorial post: BJP
A day after Mr Lapang was sworn in as Chief Minister, the BJP on Tuesday accused the Congress for using the gubernatorial post as a tool to achieve its political interest.
The BJP Meghalaya unit said the party high command had assured the State leadership of taking the issue seriously for restoration of democracy in the State.
The BJP, with one legislator in the 60-member House, is also member of the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance.
”When we had paraded 31 MLAs before him (Governor), what else do we need to prove. He should have invited the MPA (majority) rather than inviting a minority party (Congress),” BJP legislator AL Hek said.
Mr Hek also informed that he apprised of the dramatic political development in the State to Leader of the Opposition LK Advani, party president Rajnath Singh and national general secretary Arun Jaitley.
The State BJP also criticized the Governor for swearing in Mr Lapang as the Chief Minister and termed it as ”murder of democracy”. (UNI)
57 legislators take oath
By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: Swearing-in ceremony of the newly-elected legislators to the eight Meghalaya Legislative Assembly was held at the temporary Assembly building here on Tuesday.
In the 60-member House, Congress has 25 legislators, NCP 14, UDP 11, HSPDP 2, KHNAM and HSPDP one each and five Independents.
Altogether 57 legislators including Chief Minister DD Lapang took the oath administered by pro tem Speaker Hoping Stone Lyngdoh. However, former Chief Minister EK Mawlong could not make it to the swearing-in ceremony due to illness.
NCP general secretary Purno A Sangma formally returned to the State politics on Tuesday by taking the oath of office and secrecy as an MLA. He resigned from his Lok Sabha membership on Monday.
Former deputy chief ministers Dr Mukul Sangma and Dr Donkupar Roy and lone woman representative in the Assembly Ampareen Lyngdoh were among other prominent MLAs who took the oath on Tuesday.
Election in Baghmara constituency had been postponed to March 22 due to the death of Congress candidate Sengran M Sangma.
After the oath-taking ceremony, the pro tem Speaker adjourned the House sine die.
By Our Reporter
Shillong: Two bodies identified as that of one Philips Fernandes and Starson D Sangma, aged about 38 and 65 years respectively, have been lying at the Shillong Civil Hospital morgue. Hospital authorities have requested all the concerned relatives to collect the bodies immediately or within three days failing which the bodies would be disposed off as per hospital procedure.
By Our Reporter
Shillong: A fourteen-year old boy was arrested on Tuesday for raping a five-year-old girl at Mawlai Kynton Massar recently.
An FIR was lodged at Mawlai police station on Tuesday in this connection.
Police said the boy has been sent to a juvenile home.
After 20 years, it’s like homecoming for Purno
SHILLONG: Former Lok Sabha Speaker and NCP MLA P A Sangma on Tuesday formally returned to Meghalaya politics as member of the eighth 60-member Assembly for the second time.
In 1988, Mr Sangma returned to Meghalaya politics as the Chief Minister of the Congress-led coalition government, but two years later his government was toppled.
This time, he returned to state politics with a pledge to ensure political and economic development of the state.
Mr Sangma quit as member of the Lok Sabha on Monday.
His second return assumed significance with his two scions James and Conrad K Sangma following his footsteps in the Assembly.
The junior Sangmas’ said it was a unique occasion to take oath in the Assembly along with their father.
”Coming to Meghalaya Legislative Assembly after a gap of 20 years is like homecoming to me”, Mr Sangma said, soon after Pro-tem Speaker H S Lyngdoh adjourned the House sine dine.
Eulogising the standard of debates in Meghalaya Assembly over the past years, the senior politician said he wanted the same practices of Parliament be followed in the Meghalaya Assembly, barring members shouting in the well of the House.
”I want even the ministers to participate in the debate on relevant issues in the House for a healthy democracy as at present only the Opposition members are vocal on many issues,” Mr Sangma stated.
Mr Sangma, who missed the 125-year-old structure that housed the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, which was gutted in January 9, 2001 said, ”We (legislators) have to see that there is a good House for legislators and that the construction of the House should start at the earliest”.
Earlier, soon after the oath taking ceremony, Chief Minister DD Lapang went to Mr Sangma’s table in House and congratulated him for his return to state politics. (UNI)