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Chief minister’s status ‘lowered’ in Meghalaya: Sangma

Shillong, Feb 12 (Calcutta Tube) Former Lok Sabha speaker and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader P.A. Sangma said the ‘value’ of the chief minister has declined in Meghalaya with the elevation of three other politicians to the same rank.

Last month, the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government elevated state Congress president Friday Lyngdoh, State Planning Board chairman Donkupar Roy and Meghalaya Economic Development Council chairman J.D. Rymbai to the rank and status of the chief minister.

Lyngdoh was made political advisor to Chief Minister D.D. Lapang.

‘When the northeastern state is facing serious financial crisis, these steps were uncalled for and violation of constitutional conventions,’ Sangma told reporters here Thursday night.

Sangma, a former chief minister of the state, claimed the state government has to spend at least Rs.400,000 per month for the three leaders elevated to the chief minister’s status.

‘There may be some political compulsions, but there should be a decent way of doing it. When the government is unable to pay outstanding arrears to state government employees as per recommendations of the Pay Commission, why is it spending on unnecessary expenses?’ he said.

The move to elevate the three leaders’ status is seen as an attempt to quell any threat of instability to the shaky MUA government.

Political instability marks politics in Meghalaya, which has already seen three governments since the March 2008 elections, a situation characteristic of the mountainous state known for frequent change of loyalties by the legislators.

In the 60-member assembly, the Congress at present has 28 legislators and enjoys the support of 10 United Democratic Party (UDP) members, led by Roy.

The main opposition party NCP has 15 legislators.

Meghalaya has seen nine governments with varied combinations of political parties, resulting in eight chief ministers between 1998 and 2009.

There were just two occasions when a chief minister was able to complete his full five-year term since Meghalaya attained statehood in 1972.

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