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A profile of Mukul Sangma
Correspondent/ PTI SHILLONG, APR 20
Published on 20 Apr. 2010 11:15 PM IST
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Newly elected chief minister of Meghalaya, Mukul Sangma, who turns 45 years old today, could not have wished for a more befitting birthday gift than the chief minister’s gaddy which will formally be his immediately after his swearing-in here today.
His taking over the reins of power also marks the culmination of Mukul’s 16-year political career which began in 1993 when he won from the 58-Ampatigiri constituency of West Garo Hills in Meghalaya.
With his crowning as the 11th Chief Minister of Meghalaya, which became a fully fledged state about 38 years ago, the state will also see the shifting of the centre of gravity of Meghalaya politics once again to Garo Hills which produced not only the state’s first chief minister, but also the only two chief ministers, the late Capt Williamson A Sangma and his protégé Salseng C Marak, who could complete their five year terms without any break.
Since his first induction as cabinet minister in 1998 there was no looking back for Mukul. Over the years he not only became deputy chief minister, but also was given some of the most important portfolios like home, finance, power and health. In his eventful 16-year career in politics it was not all hunky-dory for the medical turned politician Mukul.
He also had his nadir when in 2005 he was forced to resign as a result of police firings in which nine lives were lost and several others suffered injuries over the Meghalaya Board of School Education issue.
Besides having carved out a permanent niche for himself in the Garo Hills politics, Mukul has of late also become the bête noire of his former mentor and Garo Hills political heavy weight and former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma.
Though Purno had won the Tura parliamentary seat for a record nine times, this feat has never overawed Dr Mukul.
In the 1998 parliamentary elections from the Tura seat, he fought against Purno Sangma but was severely defeated.
With his taking over as the new chief minister of Meghalaya, Sangma will also have to reckon with the endemic political instability which has been wracking Meghalaya for a good part of its 38-year history.
If the last two years which saw four governments in Meghalaya are anything to go by, Sangma would require not only political skills honed over these 16 years, but political charism which to date is still lacking in Meghalaya.
Can 22nd government in 38 years last till term-end?
As politically unstable Meghalaya got its 22nd government in 38 years today, speculation is already rife whether the new Mukul Sangma-led ministry would be able to complete the remaining three-year term.
Congress insiders said not all are comfortable with Sangma and he is most likely to have a tough time keeping his ministerial colleagues in good humour.
Aspiration for a berth in the ministry was one of the prime reasons that triggered the revolt by disgruntled Congress MLAs leading to D D Lapang’s ouster. It would be tough to please everybody considering that the strength of the council of ministers has to remain constant at 12, thanks to delimitation.
“A lot needs to be done (in Meghalaya) to build a strong and disciplined party. This has happened in the past. Hope things will change and we can get a more stable government,” senior AICC leader Oscar Fernandes, who was here as AICC observer, said after the Congress Legislature Party meeting last night.
Asked if there could be an amendment to the 97th Amendment that restricts the size of ministry to 20 per cent of the Assembly, Fernandes said, “It needs support from all quarters. May be we need a different yardstick for Northeast. It is being discussed and hope we will arrive at something.” Asked how Mukul Sangma would be able to ensure stability, he said,“It is the responsibility for all party men to ensure the ministry’s survival. There should be more coherence between the CLP and party.” D D Lapang, who was forced to quit as chief minister yesterday after at least 14 disgruntled Congress legislators revolted demanding change in leadership and inclusion in the ministry, said, “We are in the field. Those who are watching should study the reason.”
Lapang’s government was the 21st government the state has witnessed in its 38-year-old history and tenth in the last 10 years. Never in the history of Meghalaya was any political party able to secure majority except during the first Assembly elections.

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