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Meghalaya CM Rymbai finally resigns
K Anurag in Guwahati
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March 10, 2007 12:58 IST
Last Updated: March 10, 2007 15:08 IST

Meghalaya Chief Minister J D Rymbai resigned from his post on Saturday after a brief tenure of eight months, following Congress president Sonia Gandhi asking him to step down.

Rymbai's resignation comes just a day ahead of the commencement of Budget session of the Assembly.

Rymbai, who had put a brave front on Friday night after receiving the backing of coalition partners of the ruling Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance and had said defiantly that he would not step down, submitted his papers to Governor M M Jacob on Saturday morning.

Senior Congress leader and Union Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi who arrived in Shillong held a meeting with Rymbai, after which the chief minister went to Raj Bhavan and put in his papers.

Rymbai was communicated the party high command's decision asking him to resign when he called on Sonia on March 6 in New Delhi.

Earlier, Rymbai had been asked to step down by two AICC functionaries -- Oscar Fernandes and Ved Prakash -- who visited Shillong on February 26. He, however, refused and sought to see "papers" from Sonia.

Rymbai returned to Shillong from Delhi on March 8.

Party sources said the Congress Legislature Party would elect a new leader, "probably D D Lapang", at a meeting later in the day.

Rymbai was also holding a meeting with his loyalists.

Rymbai was sworn in as chief minister on June 15, 2006, succeeding D D Lapang following resentment among a section of Congress legislators.

The issue of change of leadership has been dogging the 29-member CLP since early last year. Although Lapang was removed, the leadership issue did not die down with Lapang loyalists demanding his reinstatement.

The high command had also conducted a secret ballot by all the 29 MLAs on January 17 for electing a new leader of the CLP. However, the result of the voting was not made public.

Congress is the major partner in the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance, with the other constituents being regional parties. The state will go to polls early next year.

Earlier, Rymbai stated before the media that he was even ready to face expulsion from the party for his show of defiance against the Congress leadership.

Lapang had sent a list of Congress legislators who have been backing Rymbai in defiance to the directive of the party to the AICC leadership.

The chief minister in waiting requested the AICC to warn the Congress legislators against rooting for Rymbai that led to the crisis in the Congress-led coalition in the hill state.

It may be mentioned that almost the same group of Congress MLAs were responsible for uprooting Lapang from chief ministership last year although the government was functioning smoothly.

After it lost Punjab and Uttarakhand in the just held Assembly polls, the Congress party is in no mood to take dissension within the party in Meghalaya lightly.

The Bharatiya Janata Party had called upon the governor to dissolve the Meghalaya Assembly to pave the way for fresh elections to avoid further political instability in the state.

With PTI Inputs

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