The Meghalaya government has elevated the rank and status of Pradesh Congress Committee president Friday Lyngdoh from the rank of Deputy Chief Minister — which he was enjoying as political adviser to Chief Minister D.D. Lapang — to Chief Minister.

Already the political leaders enjoying the rank of Chief Minister are Dr. Lapang; the former Chief Minister, J.D. Rymbai, as the Chairman of Meghalaya Economic Development Council; and another former Chief Minister Donkupar Roy as the Chairman of the State Planning Board.

“The rank and status of Mr. Lyngdoh has been upgraded from the rank of Deputy Chief Minister to that of Chief Minister. He shall continue to function as political adviser to the Chief Minister,” an official notification issued in Shillong said on Thursday.

The Chief Minister defended the decision. When contacted, Dr. Lapang told The Hindu over telephone from his official residence in Shillong: “This is not the first instance of Meghalaya having more than one person enjoying the rank of Chief Minister. We had done [it] in the past. I myself was enjoying the rank of Chief Minister when Mr. Rymbai had become the Chief Minister. Similarly Mr. Rymbai and Mr. Donkupar Roy are enjoying the rank of Chief Minister. There is absolutely nothing wrong in our action of upgrading the rank of Mr. Lyngdoh to that of Chief Minister.”

The Chief Minister also denied media reports that such a move had been taken to quell a possible rebellion against him by a section of Congress legislators, which was not lucky to secure a ministerial berth. “Such reports are baseless and we are immune to such media reports without substance,” Dr. Lapang said.

Political circles in Meghalaya, however, pointed out that while there was precedence of the former Chief Ministers being rehabilitated in the rank of Chief Minister in the State as head of important government bodies and office, what was unprecedented was accommodating the PCC chief in the Chief Minister’s rank. They feel the move was a balancing factor between the PCC and the government and to quell possible dissidence against Dr. Lapang.

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