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Meghalaya ventures into a territory few would dare--elevates three to the 'rank and status of chief minister'

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Prasanna Mohanty | February 1, 2010


Meghalaya chief minister D D Lapang who elevated three colleagues to the `rank and status of chief minister` to keep his government going
Meghalaya chief minister D D Lapang who elevated three colleagues to the `rank and status of chief minister` to keep his government going

Political instability plagues many small states but none can match Meghalaya’s story. Ever since the state came into being in 1972, only two chief ministers, W A Sangma and S C Marak, have completed their terms in office. Think of any bizarre political arrangement to keep the government going and you would find it in Meghalaya -- rotational chief ministers; independent legislator heading the government (Madhu Koda  was apparently inspired by F A Khonglam who headed the state government in 2001) and constitutionally unknown entities called deputy chief ministers.

Now comes an absolute shocker. The state has four chief ministers. While one, D D Lapang, has been constitutionally appointed, three others have been elevated to “the rank and status of the chief minister”. They are: Donkupar Roy, state planning board chairman, J D Rymbai, chairman of Meghalaya economic development council and Friday Lyngdoh, Congress president and political advisor to the chief minister and the latest one to join the rank.

Such are the glorious uncertainties of office that Lapang himself has occupied the high seat no less than five times in the past decade-and-half, three times in the last three years, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The state assembly has 60 seats and two political parties, the Congress and the NCP, dominate the scene. But the real problem is the nature of politics being played here. Every legislator is for himself or herself. Party affiliations don’t mean much and hence floor-crossing is par for the course, a regular event.  While political scientists have been battling for years to find an answer to this political instability, the latest evelopment—three
men having the rank and status of chief minister—is bound to leave them aghast at the absurdity of it all.

And, apparently, either the Congress high command that makes such a song and dance about austerity, has not heard of what is happening in the state or, conversely, the state party does not care what the parent prescribes for the rest of the country.

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