The Delhi Chalo Slogan
It was for a noble and patriotic cause that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose called a march to New Delhi, the national capital during the struggle for the country’s independence. The world today however is a different one, one which has changed in many ways, notwithstanding by way of the temperament of leadership. The rumblings within the Congress party of the Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) had ultimately surfaced when as many as nine rebel Congress members air dashed to New Delhi for a cause far from being of any public interest.The Congress being the oldest political party in the country definitely has a code of disciplinary conduct regardless of whether it is inside Parliament, the legislative assemblies, the Panchayti Raj councils or outside. The case in point however is that the rebel Congress members of the Meghalaya state assembly have blatantly made a concerted demand for the removal of independent ministers and a minister of one of the regional parties to make way for the placement of Congress members in the coveted ministerial seats. They had cried hoarse for the All India Congress Party to lend its ears and grant favour to their pleas.
A.T. Mondal, Ismail R. Marak, Limison Sangma the three independents and Paul Lyngdoh of the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) regional alliance of the MUA government were, about a year ago, idolized for bringing down the Nationalist Congress Party – United Democratic Front government led by Dr. Donkupar Roy. It therefore seems that the fact that this squadron of four had made it a possibility for the present MUA government to grab the reigns of power is but a distant memory.
It was in the fitness of things that the squadron of four was promptly rewarded. Their removal therefore is an outright about turn to the extent of stripping them of their rewards and taking back the honour that they greatly deserved. Therefore, the question of who will be inducted in their place will be creating another added problem and will also aggravate the situation as, the removal of the squadron of four will not vacate enough ministerial seats to accommodate all those who aspire to hold these positions. It is clear that the present number of 12 ministerial seats can not be increased any further if one is to adhere to Parliamentary norms. The present structure of the MUA government in the house of 60 is Congress – 27, United Democratic Party – 10, Hills State Democratic Party – 2 and Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement – 1, having a total strength of 44.
Almost all the ruling members besides the ministers have been gratified by posts of Parliamentary Secretaries, Chairmen, Co – Chairmen of various boards and corporations, irrespective of whether they actually qualify for these posts or have the competency to handle the posts. In order to satisfy the unending craving for more and more and financial sops, the public exchequer is forced to bear the brunt. It is for the first time in India that three additional Chief Ministers were appointed namely Mr. J. D. Rymbai and Dr. Donkupar Roy both belonging to the United Democratic Party and who are both former Chief Ministers and Mr. Friday Lyngdoh who is already President of the Pradesh Congress Committee. In addition to this, even former Union Minister Mr. P. R. Kyndiah has been allocated a job which holds the status of a Cabinet Minister. The question of a state having four Chief Ministers was raised by a member in Parliament as being unprecedented and the question was raised as to whether such a situation is at all Constitutional.
The common people are therefore in a state of perplexity when they glaringly see in broad daylight how politicians give importance to loaves and fishes and getting their cut of the proverbial pound of flesh rather than attending to the needs of the have - nots. What therefore is the exact and precise role of a public representative who has been duly elected to serve the interests of the people and to see that their minimum and basic needs and facilities are secured?
The Congress dissidents have also called for a change in leadership in the state as the present Chief Minister Mr. D. D. Lapang had soft – peddled their demand to drop the three independent ministers and the KHNAM minister. This had earlier been done when Mr. J. D. Rymbai was hoisted to the post of Chief Minister but Mr. D. D. Lapang managed to make a comeback and regain the seat. As of now, Chief Minister D. D. Lapang still remains a common factor of the Congress led coalition with regional parties and any disturbance of the equation might ultimately lead to the downfall of the MUA government as the opposition NCP can not afford to just sit back in such a situation.
It is evident that there exists a sharp divide over the whole issue within the Congress camp which has failed to convince the AICC leadership to right away concede to the demands of rebels. The AICC would prefer a consensus. The other MUA coalition partners belonging to regional parties are also playing a tactical game of non – committal. They are just waiting and watching the scrambling game to power of the Congress dissidents and whether this will hamper their interests.
The rebel campers in New Delhi were asked to return to Shillong because of the six day budget session of the state assembly and were denied of any decision. In fact, any decision which would finally be made would carry the weight, influence and opinion of the leader that they wanted to change. Chief Minister Lapang considers the unrest a family quarrel which can be settled within the confines of the party.
Sumar Sing Sawian
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