Shillong, August 4 (IANS): A day after sacking two of his senior Cabinet Ministers for their “anti-party activities”, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Friday inducted two Congress legislators in his cabinet.
The cabinet reshuffle comes ahead of the state assembly elections, which is scheduled to be in February-March 2018.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit administered the oath of office and secrecy to Comingone Ymbon and Celestine Lyngdoh at a simple function organised in the Raj Bhavan here.
This is the second time that Sangma inducted new ministers in cabinet since he was sworn in as Chief Minister after leading the Congress party to a landslide victory in the 2013 assembly poll.
In April 2016, Sangma inducted two Congress legislators Martin M. Danggo and Ronnie V. Lyngdoh to calm the rebellion against him.
Community and Rural Development Minister Prestone Tynsong and Power Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar were sacked from the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government for their “anti-party activities” and their “plan to contest as opposition National People’s Party” candidates in the 2018 assembly polls.
Denying that the sacking of Tynsong and Dhar has anything to do with their “anti-party activities”, Sangma said the purpose of the cabinet reshuffle was to utilise their service.
“I would like many more ministers telling me to relieve them from the ministry so that they can focus on their constituency,” Sangma told journalists.
The new Ministers said they will help the Chief Minister ensure all-round development in the interest of the people.
Congress sources said the two Ministers were dropped after Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s nod in a meeting with Sangma and Meghalaya Congress President D.D. Lapang on Monday, which reviewed the political situation in the state.
Asked if he would leave the Congress and join the NPP headed by Lok Sabha member Conrad K. Sangma, Tynsong said: “As of now I am still a Congress MLA. Paving way for our colleagues to be inducted into the Cabinet is not because of anti-party activity, but for the interest of the party.”
Meghalaya has a 12-member ministry, including the Chief Minister.
In the 60-member legislature, the Congress has 30 members and has the support of the Nationalist Congress Party that has two members, one member of the North East Democratic Socialist Party and 11 independents.
The opposition Meghalaya People’s Front is made up of eight MLAs of United Democratic Party and two of the National People’s Party.
The Hill State People’s Democratic Party and two independent legislators are not part of the Meghalaya People’s Front.