Shillong: Former chief minister of Meghalaya Dr Mukul Sangma, along with 11 other Congress MLAs, formally announced their merger with the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday.
“We have decided to join the Trinamool Congress (TMC) after much consideration,” former CM Mukul Sangma announced in Shillong on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference, Sangma said 12 of the 17 Congress MLAs in Meghalaya have quit the grand old party to join the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC because the Congress “failed to perform its duty as the main opposition party across India”.
“We have taken a decision to march with the Trinamool Congress,” Sangma said.
“A complete sense of commitment towards serving the people has brought us to take this decision. In 2018 Assembly elections, we were confident of forming govt but we could not. Again, post-poll there were activities to poach our members,” Sangma said.
He added: “…collectively demonstrated our commitment. Commitment towards the state has superseded everything else. We are failing in our duty as far as the role of the opposition is concerned.”
Some of the Congress MLAs joining the TMC from Khasi Hills region include Charles Pyngrope, Hima Shangpliang, George Lyngdoh and Shitlang Pale.
Sangma said that this decision was made “to fulfil the responsibilities of protecting the state and country”.
Sangma said their decision was in line with the long drawn exercise to find a viable pan-India option that can take care of Meghalaya, the Northeast, and the rest of India.
“TMC main strategist Prashant Kishore and I share the same objectives for the interest of the state,” said Sangma.
Sources said the late-night decision regarding this mass exodus of Congress MLAs in Meghalaya came almost two months after studying the grassroot nerves of the politics in Meghalaya by TMC party workers and officials of Prashant Kishore’s IPAC.
Meanwhile, dissenting MLA Charles Pyngrope said the decision was taken as they needed a space to be created wherein their potential to work as leaders can be utilised to the optimum.
“Prashant Kishore and Mamata Banerjee’s vision is to take the country forward and fight communal forces. i expect the party will create team leadership to guide all of them and also be guided by their own capabilities,” Pyngrope said.
“Twelve MLAs of the Congress out of 17 in Meghalaya have decided to join the TMC. We will formally join the TMC under the leadership of former CM Mukul Sangma,” H M Shangpliang, the MLA from Mawsynram in East Khasi Hills district said late Wednesday night.
The breakaway group had submitted a list of MLAs crossing over to the TMC to state Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh and informed him about their decision, an official said in Shillong.
The development is a major boost for West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, who has been trying to expand her party’s footprint beyond her native state.
The move came a day after three-term Congress MP from Bihar Kirti Azad, former JD(U) general secretary Pawan Varma and Haryana politician Ashok Tanwar joined her party.
The TMC is trying to enter Tripura’s political arena in a big way by contesting a bitterly fought municipal election in the neighbouring state. It will also contest the assembly elections in Goa with the intention of pitching Banerjee firmly as the foremost anti-BJP opposition voice.
A Trinamool Congress leader said in New Delhi on Wednesday night that 12 of the 18 Congress MLAs in Meghalaya, including Sangma, have joined the party.
Sangma, the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, was reportedly unhappy with the Congress’s top leadership. Sources also said Sangma was peeved at the appointment of Vincent H Pala without consulting him and the two did not get along well.
Banerjee, who is in the national capital, on being asked about her plans to call on Sonia Gandhi had said on Tuesday it is not mandatory to meet the Congress president every time she visits New Delhi.
The TMC leader, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said with 12 Congress MLAs joining his party, the Trinamool Congress has become the principal opposition party in the state.
“Twelve of the 18 Congress MLAs in Meghalaya join Trinamool. Principal Opposition In Meghalaya is now Trinamool. Another huge setback for Congress,” he said.
Elections will be due in Meghalaya in 2023.
In 2012, the Meghalaya Pradesh Trinamool Congress was formally launched with an intention to contest 35 of the state’s 60 seats.
As the anti-defection law permits merger of two third members of a legislature group with another party, the 12 Congress lawmakers will not attract disqualification.
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