Former Chief Minister of Meghalaya Mukul Sangma, on Thursday, 25 November, said the Congress party had failed to play the role of the main Opposition in the country and that's why he along with 11 other MLAs out of a total of the 17 Congress MLAs in Meghalaya will be joining the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Thursday, ANI reported.
"Congress has failed to play the role of the main Opposition party in the country. We have taken a decision to merge with the Trinamool Congress," Sangma said in Shillong on Thursday, as per ANI.
"A complete sense of commitment towards serving the people has brought us to take this decision. In 2018 Assembly elections, we were confident of forming government but we could not. Again, post-poll there were activities to poach our members," he added.
"This group of 17 we have, collectively demonstrated our commitment. The commitment towards the state has superseded everything else. We are failing in our duty as far as the role of the Opposition is concerned," he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Earlier, Shangpliang, the MLA from Mawsynram in East Khasi Hills, said late on Wednesday night:
"Twelve MLAs of the Congress out of 17 in Meghalaya have decided to join the TMC. We will formally join the TMC under the leadership of former CM Mukul Sangma," as per PTI.
Meanwhile, news agency ANI reported that Manish Chatrath, the Congress in-charge of Meghalaya, would visit Shillong on Thursday, 25 November.
'Conspiracy to Break Congress Happening All Over Northeast'
Reacting to the development, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, "This conspiracy to break Congress is happening not only in Meghalaya, but whole northeast. I challenge CM Mamata Banerjee to first elect them on TMC's symbol and then formally welcome them to her party," as per ANI.
"If she (Mamata Banerjee) meets Sonia Gandhi now, then PM Modi will get angry. Her actions changed soon after her nephew was summoned by ED. Before this, she wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi to fight against BJP together. This all is being done by Prashant Kishor and TMC's leader Luizinho Faleiro. We were aware of this," he added.
What Happened on Wednesday?
Around 10 pm on Wednesday, the Meghalaya MLAs submitted a letter to Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh and informed him of their change of status, sources said, reported NDTV.
This came at a time when TMC chief Mamata Banerjee is in Delhi on a three-day visit, pushing for a united opposition.
The TMC has been in an expansion mode after having defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal elections earlier this year.
Of the 12 Congress legislators who are supposed to join the Trinamool, eight MLAs are from Garo Hills, while four are from Khasi Jaintia hills, IANS reported.
Former Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma was said to be upset over the appointment of Shillong Lok Sabha Member Vincent H Pala as the state Congress President in September.
Sangma had reportedly met TMC’s National General Secretary Abhishek Banerjee in Kolkata last month triggering speculation of a rift within the party unit.
Meanwhile, the TMC has made three key acquisitions for Haryana and Punjab, including former cricketer Kirti Azad, Rahul Gandhi’s former aide Ashok Tanwar, and former Rajya Sabha MP Pawan Verma from the Janata Dal (United).
Prashant Kishor in Shillong: Sources
Further, Sangma added that he met with Banerjee's chief political strategist Prashant Kishor in Kolkata, and he was a "good friend... who can make a difference," NDTV reported.
Kishor was at the helm of Banerjee's thumping victory in the West Bengal assembly elections earlier this year, and is now reportedly touted as the man who will take her to the national political arena.
After the election, he stated, "It was an absolute pleasure working with her. She is extremely receptive about suggestions and an absolute delight to work with," NDTV reported.
According to sources, Kishor and his team are presently in Meghalaya's capital Shillong to prepare the TMC for the 2023 assembly election.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI, NDTV and IANS.)