Shillong: Conrad Kongkal Sangma on Tuesday took oath as the Chief Minister of Meghalaya for the second consecutive term at a grand ceremony, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Ministers.
Sangma, also the national president of the National People’s Party (NPP), was administered the oath of office by Governor Phagu Chauhan at the sprawling lawns of the Raj Bhavan.
It was a historic occasion as it is for the first time that the Prime Minister of the country attended the swearing-in ceremony of a new cabinet in this matrilineal State.
Apart from Modi and Shah, BJP President J P Nadda, Assam Chief Minister and North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) Convenor Himanta Biswa Sharma, Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang and Jharkhand Chief Minister M Hemant Soren witnessed the swearing in ceremony.
Almost all the ruling legislators of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance – 2.0 government and opposition Congress and Voice of the People Party (VPP) legislators attended the oath taking ceremony. Interestingly, the opposition Trinamool Congress lawmakers led by former Chief Minister Dr. Mukul Sangma were conspicuous by their absence.
National People’s Party (NPP) supremo, Conrad Sangma was the first to take the oath of office for the second term as Chief Minister followed by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong who was sworn in for the second successive term.
Senior NPP leader and former Transport Minister, Sniawbhalang Dhar was elevated as the Deputy Chief Minister in his second innings as a cabinet minister.
There would be two Deputy Chief Ministers instead of one primarily because the Khasi and Jaintia Hills region would get equal representation. Tynsong is from Khasi Hills while Dhar is from the Jaintia Hills region.
Veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator, Alexander Laloo Hek, who retained his Pynthorumkhrah seat for the straight sixth consecutive term as member of the Meghalaya assembly, was also inducted in the cabinet.
The other cabinet ministers from the NPP who were sworn in included: Ampareen Lyngdoh, AT Mondol, Comingone Ymbon, Marcuise N Marak and Rakkam A Sangma.
The United Democratic Party (UDP), which won 11 seats in the just concluded assembly polls and failed in its attempt to lead a non-NPP and non-BJP-led government with the support of Congress, TMC and other smaller parties, was also rewarded with two cabinet berths.
Senior UDP leaders and former Ministers, Paul Lyngdoh and Kyrmen Shylla were sworn in.
The other minister who was sworn in was Shakliar Warjri from the Hill State People Democratic Party. Warjri is a first-time MLA from the West Khasi Hills region.
Ampareen Lyngdoh, the lone woman in the Conrad Sangma-led ministry and Mondal were former Congress legislators who shifted to the NPP before the elections.
Moreover, Rakkam A Sangma’s elevation is also significant because he represents South Garo Hills district. It’s after several decades that South Garo Hills bordering Bangladesh, one of the most impoverished districts of the state, got a representation in the cabinet.
The BJP which managed to retain two seats in the assembly has gone into an understanding between its two legislators that Hek and Sanbor Shullai would share the cabinet seat mid-term.
It has been finalized that Hek would be in the cabinet for 2.5 years and then Shullai would be inducted into the cabinet. In the previous MDA government the BJP legislators shared the cabinet seat between them similarly.
Overall there would be four representations from the Garo Hills region while eight from the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region in the cabinet. Ri-Bhoi has no representation in the cabinet.
Meanwhile, former Rajya Sabha member who won from the North Tura seat from the NPP, Thomas Sangma would be filing his nominations for the Speaker’s post, while senior NPP legislator, Timothy D Shira is expected to continue as Deputy Speaker.