Shillong, March 28: The Meghalaya Assembly, which is the legislative body of the Indian state of Meghalaya, is currently facing a deadlock as the first session of the newly elected Assembly is set to conclude on Tuesday without a consensus on who will assume the role of the Leader of Opposition.
The Congress and the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the two largest opposition parties with five legislators each, insist on the position of Leader of the Opposition. Both parties have written to Speaker Thomas A Sangma to put forward their claims.
The recently concluded Assembly elections in Meghalaya threw up a fractured mandate, with no party securing a clear majority. However, the National People’s Party (NPP) led by Conrad Sangma emerged as the single-largest party with 26 seats in the 60-member House.
After a few days of uncertainty, the NPP formed the government by stitching up a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and several other regional parties, including the United Democratic Party (UDP), which was the second-largest party with 11 seats.
The Leader of the Opposition is an essential position in the Assembly, as the person holding the position is responsible for leading the opposition party and holding the government accountable. The position is usually given to the leader of the largest opposition party in the Assembly.
The final decision on the Leader of the Opposition rests with the Speaker, who will consider factors such as seniority before making a last call. Andrew Simons, the commissioner and secretary of the Meghalaya Assembly, said that since both the TMC and the Congress have claimed the position, it will be taken up soon.
The other alternative for the parties is to come to an understanding with each other and make an arrangement. However, both the TMC and the Congress are refusing to relent, as they are not together at the national level.
Congress Legislature Party leader Ronnie Lyngdoh said, “If they reach out to us, we can approach the high command, but they haven’t.” Meghalaya TMC vice-president James Lyngdoh also put the ball in the court of his party’s high command, saying, “Our president has already written to the Speaker. We will discuss this with the party leaders.”
The newly formed Voice of the People’s Party, which has four seats, has said that it will not align with either the Congress or the TMC as it wants to be “independent.”
The current deadlock in the Meghalaya Assembly highlights the complexities of coalition politics in India, where no single party can secure a clear mandate to form a government. It also underscores the importance of the role of the Leader of the Opposition in holding the government accountable and ensuring that the interests of the opposition parties are represented in the Assembly.