Lapang inducts seven rpt seven ministers

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Shillong, Mar 12 (UNI) Chief Minister DD Lapang today expanded his newly formed Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) ministry with the induction of seven rpt seven ministers, three of them Independent MLAs.

Governor S S Sidhu administered the oath of office and secrecy to Dr Mukul M Sangma, Martin M Danggo, Dr RC Laloo, Prestone Tynsong (all Cong MLAs) and three Independent MLAs- Abu Taher Mondal, Ismail R Marak and Limison A Sangma.

Limison and Ismail, the two new faces, in the ministry were sworn in as Ministers of State, while Dr Mukul M Sangma was sworn in as Deputy Chief Minister and others as Cabinet ministers.

The swearing-in-ceremony assumed significance since the Supreme Court is hearing a writ petition filed by Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA), a coalition of non-Congress political parties and two Independents, against the Governor's decision to invite a ''minority'' (Congress) party to form the government.

''I'm still confident to test my majority in the floor of the House,'' Mr Lapang said, who has been entrusted by the MUA with the task of negotiating with regional parties ahead of the floor test.

The Governor had asked Mr Lapang to prove his majority in the Assembly within ten days.

The Congress, which emerged as the single largest party with 25 seats, had fallen short by six seats to cross the majority threshold. The Congress, however, managed to rope in three Independent MLAs from Garo Hills to increase its tally to 28 seats, and needed three more to get the magical figure of 31 in the 60-member House.

Maintaining that the MPA is intact with its 31 members, NCP MLA PA Sangma exuded confidence that the apex court would give a ruling in favour of the MPA.

''We are hoping to get the judgment today and we are confident that the Chief Justice of India would not change his own ruling,'' Mr Sangma said.

Pointing out that it was the ruling of the then Justice KG Balakrishnan in the case of Rameshwar Prasad vs State of Bihar and others in the year 2006 that had overruled the Governor's decision in Bihar, the NCP leader said, ''I am sure the Congress will meet the same fate. If that did not happen, we would defeat the Congress on the floor of the House.'' On Monday, 30 of the 31 MLAs paraded and staked their claim to form the government before the Governor. However, the Governor invited the Congress to form the government saying his decision was aimed at preventing horse-trading.

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