President of National People’s Party Conrad Kongkal Sangma on Tuesday took oath as Meghalaya’s new chief minister alongside with 11 other leaders to form the government in alliance with the Bharatiya Janta Party, three regional parties and an Independent legislator in the northeastern state.
The 40-year-old son of the former chief minister and Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma was sworn in by Meghalaya governor Ganga Prasad during a brief ceremony at the Raj Bhawan.
The Bharatiya Janata Party played a key role in creating a mega alliance and secure the support of 34 legislators to form the next government. It won two seats in the hill state.
The ruling alliance will be lead by the NPP with 19 seats, and consisting of the United Democratic Party (6 seats), People’s Democratic Front (4 seats), Hill State People’s Democratic Party (2 seats) and one Independent.
The other leaders from the NPP and other association partners including Conrad’s elder brother James were also administered the oath of office as ministers of the newly christened Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA).
Others cabinet members are Prestone Tynsong, Comingone Ymbon and Sniawbhalanag Dhar from the NPP, Metbah Lyngdoh, Lahkmen Rymbui and Kyrmen Shylla from the United Democratic Party, Banteidor Lyngdoh and Hamletson Dohling of People’s Democratic Front.
Senior leader Alexander L Hek representing the saffron party returned to the party before the assembly elections after a stint with the Congress.
Regardless of speculations of alliance partner Hill State People’s Democratic Party, which has two MLAs, not taking part in the ceremony, one legislator from the party Samlin Malngiang also took oath as minister.
HSPDP president Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit told journalists on Monday evening that ” his party won’t be part of the new coalition as they were opposed to the BJP and didn’t support Conrad as the CM candidate.”
The party threatened to boycott the swearing-in ceremony but with HSPDP legislator Malgniang joining the new government, speculations are now rampant that both he and the party’s other legislator could join UDP—with whom HSPDP had a pre-poll alliance.
From 2009 to 2013, Conrad was the leader of opposition in the 60-member Meghalaya assembly. He failed to win the support of voters in 2013, losing to Congress’s Clement Marak from Selsella by a margin of over 2,000 votes.
He returned to electoral politics in 2016, when the Tura Lok Sabha seat fell vacant following the sudden death of his father due to a heart attack.
Conrad, who took over the reins of the party founded by his father in 2012, defeated Congress chief minister Mukul Sangma’s wife Dikkannchi Shira, by a margin of over 1.92 lakh votes.
“Conrad is a very dynamic leader. After their father’s death, James, and his younger brother Conrad—both with natural political acumen—have been able to steer NPP to greater heights,” said Patricia Mukhim, editor of The Shillong Times.