Lapang sworn in, MPA takes legal action against Guv

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Shillong, Mar 10 (UNI) In a dramatic turn of events, DD Lapang of Congress was today sworn in as Meghalaya Chief Minister amidst legal threat from the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance(MPA).

Governor SS Sidhu administered the oath of office and secrecy at a hurriedly organised swearing-in ceremony at the Raj Bhavan.

The MPA has termed the governor's invitation to Mr Lapang as a 'murder of democracy' for 'ignoring' the constitutional provisions, despite the MPA having 31 MLAs in the 60-member House.

MPA is a conglomeration of the Nationalist Congress Party (14), United Democratic Party (11), Hill State Peoples Democratic Party (2), two Independents and one each from the BJP and the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement.

''We (MPA) have decided to file a writ petition in the Supreme Court against the governor's unethical decision,'' former Lok Sabha Speaker and NCP MLA, PA Sangma told reporters here.

The Alliance has appointed former Solicitor General of India Soli Sorabji to argue on their behalf in the apex court.

Mr Lapang, who was sworn in alone, told reporters that the governor had invited him to form the government and given him ten days to prove his majority on the floor of the House.

''I have assured him to prove majority in the House,'' Mr Lapang said while refusing to divulge whether he had the magic figure of 31.

The Congress, which emerged as the single largest party with 25 seats, has fallen short by six seats to cross the majority threshold.

Governor SS Sidhu, however, in a hurriedly convened news conference, justified his stand saying, ''I have invited the Congress to form the government on the basis of being the single largest party. The present MPA did not have any pre-poll alliance.'' Before inviting Mr Lapang, Mr Sidhu said he had studied the constitutional provisions and also consulted legal experts.

Earlier, in the day, the MPA, a combination of UDP and NCP, today paraded 30 of its 31 MLAs before the governor and staked claim to form the new government.

The 30 legislators, barring former Chief Minister E K Mawlong, led by MPA's Chief Ministerial candidate Dr Donkupar Roy, marched to the Raj Bhawan and handed over the letter of support, signed by all the 31 MLAs, to Mr Sidhu.

''We have paraded our 30 MLAs, except Mr Mawlong, before the governor and told him that we (MPA) want to prove our majority in the House,'' Dr Roy told reporters after a 20-minute meeting with Mr Sidhu.

Dr Roy had added that Mr Sidhu would take a decision by this evening.

Mr Mawlong, a former chief minister, could not join his colleagues to meet the governor following ill health.

MPA leader Donkupar Roy said even if the Supreme Court rules against them, Mr Lapang will be defeated on the floor of the House when he tests his claim of enjoying a majority.

Other partners in MPA--KHNAM and HSPDP--reiterated that they were with the MPA despite rumours that they had switched over to the Lapang camp.

UNI RRK PL AB 1946

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