Shillong, Feb 6: With Meghalaya legislative Assembly elections less than a month away, the voting out of Congress leader H S Shylla as the leader of the 30-member Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) has come as a severe blow to the party in the state.
Mr Shylla was a strong contender for the Congress ticket from Nongkrem constituency.
Despite his track record of being a strong leader, especially for taking the initiatives against the critics of the ruling Congress-led government on the mining of Uranium in the state, the Congress party denied him the party ticket and instead allotted the same to Union Tribal Affairs Minister P R Kyndiah's son Waibha K Kyndiah.
''I have decided to go ahead and contest the Assembly elections as an Independent candidate from Nongkrem constituency,'' Mr Shylla told UNI here.
In the last Assembly elections in 2003, junior Kyndiah came a poor fourth trailing behind three others, including Mr Shylla who came second in the electoral battle in Nongkrem constituency.
With his formal ouster as the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party of KHADC yesterday, the die is now cast for Mr Shylla to quit the Congress and contest the Assembly elections as an Independent candidate from Nongkrem constituency.
Not only that, the Congress party is in a shaky position, especially with Union Tribal Affairs Minister's son Waibha K Kyndiah fighting his ''tribal status'' in the lower court.
Two days ago, the KHADC stripped away the Schedule Tribe status of junior Kyndiah on grounds that it violated Sections 10 and 3(1) of the Khasi Social Custom of Lineage Act, 1997.
The decision came following NGO Ka Seng Tip Kur Tip Kha U Khasi's filing a complaint against him to the Council. According to these sections, ''A Khasi shall cease to be Khasi, if he does not follow the Khasi matrilineal system.'' Besides, junior Kyndiah also violated Section 3(1) of the Act, which said, ''A person whose both the parents belong to Khasi community will have to give his surname to his mother.'' In Meghalaya, the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo communities follow the matrilineal system, where the surname is taken from the mother's side.
The court of East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner B Dhar has fixed February 22 for the judgment on junior Kyndiah tribal status With the latest action against Mr Shylla, the Congress party has further reduced its chances of winning the elections from Nongkrem seat, but also creating adverse publicity for their 'infighting' in the party, which political observers say it is not conducive at all for any party ahead of the assembly polls in the state.