Conrad Sangma took oath as the 12th chief minister of Meghalaya on Tuesday after regional parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party supported his National People’s Party to beat the Congress and form the government.
Eleven other ministers were also sworn in in Shillong. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP President Amit Shah attended the swearing-in ceremony. “We are clear on our agenda of good governance, many sectors need to be looked into,” said Sangma. “Real challenge and work starts today. We will work to take our state forward.”
The Congress on Saturday won 21 seats in the 60-member Assembly, making it the single largest party, but it was 10 seats short of an absolute majority. Sangma’s National People’s Party came in second with 19 seats, and is backed by the United Democratic Party, which won six constituencies, the People’s Democratic Front, which got four, the BJP and the Hill State Socialist Democratic Party with two seats each and an independent candidate – taking the alliance’s tally to 34 seats.
On Sunday, the day after the Assembly elections results were announced, the BJP, NPP and UDP said Sangma would be their chief minister.
The National People’s Party was founded by late Garo leader PA Sangma, who was a Lok Sabha speaker and a former chief minister of Meghalaya. His youngest son, Conrad Sangma, took over the party after his death in 2016.
In the months before the elections, Conrad Sangma projected his party as an attractive local alternative to both the Congress and the BJP – many in Meghalaya found the saffron party to be too communal.
The NPP, though an ally of the BJP at the Centre and in Manipur, did not have a seat-sharing arrangement with it in the state before the polls.
On Sunday, Sangma had said that it will not be easy running a coalition government. “It is never easy,” Sangma had told NDTV.
The Hill State People’s Democratic Party, which is a BJP ally, had earlier said it has always stood for a non-Congress and non-BJP government, IANS reported.
It has also objected to Sangma being the chief minister. “A pre-poll alliance was forged between the UDP and HSPDP, but the UDP did not consult us when they proposed the name of Conrad Sangma for chief minister,” HSPDP President Ardent Basaiawmoit said on Monday.