Who will become minister if United Democratic Party (UDP) decides to send education minister Lahkmen Rymbui as the Speaker of the State Assembly?
However, the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) has enough experienced legislators to be chosen from among its partners as minister.
The UDP has six MLAs, and one of them should go as candidate for the Speaker’s post.
The Speaker post became vacant following the death of the seventh time MLA from Shella constituency and Assembly Speaker, late Dr Donkupar Roy Dkhar on July 28.
Donkupar was also the president of UDP from 2004 till his death.
The UDP claimed the Speaker’s post as its quota after the demise of Dr Donkupar.
Except Lahkmen Rymbui, the UDP did not have a qualified MLA for the top post.
But the UDP has not taken any decision on Rymbui.
The UDP also has the other five MLAs including Metbah Lyngdoh who is the minister in the MDA government.
Rymbui, the UDP legislator from Amlarem Constituency, is being considered the fittest person to handle the education department, one of the most challenging departments in the state.
This has put the UDP in dilemma because among its six legislators, Rymbui is also considered the fittest to occupy the Speaker’s post.
“I have nothing to say as of now. This is a matter to be discussed first within the UDP together as a party,” Rymbui said, when asked if he was ready to sacrifice the minister’s post for the Speaker’s post.
If Rymbui goes as Speaker, the MDA would have to consider choosing someone from other parties.
“For the interest of the state, capable people must be there as ministers. The MDA has put outside the Cabinet some of the best brains,” pointed out a senior political leader on anonymity.
The MDA has plenty to choose from among the senior legislators like the four-time MLA Samuel Sangma (Baghmara) and three-time MLA and former minister Saleng A. Sangma (Gambegre).
There are also first-timers like former Rajya Sabha MP Thomas A. Sangma (North Tura), Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar (Mawkyrwat) and S.K. Sun (Mawphlang).
Besides, there are NPP’s lone woman MLA Ferlin C.A. Sangma (Selsella), Sohra MLA Gavin M. Mylliem and Umsning MLA Jason S. Mawlong.
Political observers admitted that managing the NDA coalition government is not an easy task for the chief minister, Conrad K Sangma.
At present, the UDP with six MLAs got a major share as the party was given three cabinet berths plus the Speaker’s post.
The UDP is the second largest partner of the NPP-led MDA government.
The NPP has 21 MLAs, but got just five cabinet berths and the deputy Speaker’s post.
The People’s Democratic Front (PDF) with four MLAs got two cabinet berths, and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), and the BJP having two MLAs each, was given one cabinet berth each.
Out of three Independent MLAs who supported the MDA government, two of them have joined as associate members of the UDP.
The NCP has Saleng A Sangma as its lone MLA, who also supported the MDA government.
There were speculations that either Samuel Sangma or Saleng Sangma may be inducted as minister, if Lahkmen Rymbui accepted to quit as minister for the Speaker’s post.
When contacted if he aspires to be in the cabinet, Saleng said, “As public representative, I am ready to serve the people in any capacity, if given a chance. But it is the prerogative of the chief minister to choose a minister from among the equals.”
Saleng was also the minister from 2010 to 2013 when he was with the Congress.
He left the Congress in 2013 prior to the Assembly elections, after he was denied party ticket. He won as Independent from Gambegre in 2013.
Saleng joined the NCP in 2018, and was re-elected again from Gambegre for the third time.