Governance Now Visionary Talks Series

That's one chief minister too many for Meghalaya

The northeastern state has created history by having four chief ministers and two deputy chief ministers

GN Bureau | February 1, 2010


USA consulate general Ms Beth A Payne calling on Meghalaya chief minister Dr D D Lapang during her visit to Shillong on September 1, 2009
USA consulate general Ms Beth A Payne calling on Meghalaya chief minister Dr D D Lapang during her visit to Shillong on September 1, 2009

Northeastern state of Meghalaya has created a record few would like to match or better. It now claims four chief ministers.

One of them, Congress leader Dr Dethwelson Lapang, was sworn in as the chief minister for the fifth time in May 2009 by Governor R S Mooshahary. Two others--state planning board chairman Donkupar Roy and Meghalaya economic development council chairman J D Rymbai--enjoy "the rank and status of chief minister". Incidentally, both Roy and Rymbai are former chief ministers of the state.

A fourth one was added to the list a few days ago when the government issued a statement saying the state Congress president Friday Lyngdoh, also a legislator, has been “upgraded” to the status of chief minister. He was holding the status of deputy chief minister.

The official statement issued on January 28 said: “The rank and status of Friday Lyngdoh has been upgraded from that of deputy chief minister to that of chief minister. He shall continue to function as political advisor to the chief minister.”

Mercifully, a senior government official explained that Lyngdoh does not enjoy any constitutional power. "The executive powers are vested only on Lapang", the official said.

That is not all. The state already has two deputy chief ministers--Mukul Sangma and Bindo Lalong.

The ruling Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance, which took over in May last year, has 37 legislators in a house of 60, of which 28 are Congress MLAs and nine are of the UDP. Lapang’s is the third government in the state since the March 2008 Assembly elections.

Meanwhile, the Congress has virtually endorsed the development. Party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said it was an "unusual political decision" and that what three others had been given was "not more than a rank". He refuted charge that it was either a misuse of money or power, though didn't elaborate.

The BJP hit back saying that it was a "constitutional absurdity" and that the Congress and the UPA government must explain the development.

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