Sushanta Talukdar

Says he only wants the established procedure to be followed

  • Demands written communication from party leadership
  • Sonia must invite him for discussion: supporters

    IMPHAL: The Congress-led Democratic Alliance Government in Meghalaya is heading for a fresh bout of political crisis with Chief Minister J.D. Rymbai refusing to step down and make way for his predecessor D.D. Lapang as directed by the Congress high command.

    Mr. Rymbai's followers, who met in Shillong on Wednesday, decided to ask the party central leadership to follow the same procedure when Dr. Lapang was replaced by Mr. Rymbai.

    Trouble began on Monday when two emissaries of the central leadership Union Minister and AICC general secretary in-charge of northeast Oscar Fernandes and AICC secretary Maj. (retd.) Ved Prakash asked Mr. Rymbai to step down.

    The Chief Minister told reporters that it was a courtesy call and that the two leaders told him verbally that the high command wanted him to step down. He refused and decided to ask for a written communication. Earlier, on January 17, Maj. Ved Prakash flew down to Shillong to conduct a secret ballot among the Congress legislators on the leadership issue. He went back the same day with a sealed envelope containing the ballot papers and submitted it to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The high command, however, decided to defer a decision till the Manipur Assembly elections were over. Mr. Fernandes, who was here to oversee the government formation, told The Hindu that he would not like to comment on Mr. Rymbai's remarks, as it was an "internal matter" of the party. He, however, said the Chief Minister had sought time till Thursday and was likely to go to Delhi to discuss the matter with the party.

    Home Minister R.G. Lyngdoh told The Hindu over phone that Wednesday's meeting, attended by 12 MLAs, urged the high command that the Congress president should invite the Chief Minister to discuss with him the decision to replace him.