SHILLONG, June 2 (IANS): Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Thursday rushed to New Delhi to meet senior Congress leaders amid growing demands from rebels for his ouster, party leaders said.
Officials at Sangma's office maintained that he has been called by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to discuss the state's finances, but party sources said that Sangma has been summoned in connection with the rebellion against him.
Sangma's sudden air-dash to New Delhi assumes significance in the light of a new development - his deputy publicly announcing the chief minister has lost the support of a majority of the 28 party legislators.
"18 Congress legislators have demanded Sangma's removal and he (Sangma) has lost his majority," Deputy Chief Minister Rowell Lyngdoh told journalists here.
The veteran Congress legislator said the chief minister should immediately convene a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting to resolve the leadership issue.
"It (political crisis) has really affected the state. The high command will have to take a decision to stall the continuing drift in the government," Lyngdoh said.
This is the first time that such a senior minister in the Sangma's ministry has come out openly in favour of the demand for convening a CLP meeting.
"The party leadership has summoned him to Delhi to verify a few facts," Congress general secretary and state in-charge Dhani Ram Shandil told IANS, but refused to elaborate further.
In fact, Shandil had made it clear that Sangma would complete the remaining term in office till 2013.
However, the rebel Congress legislators led by former chief minister D.D. Lapang rejected Shandil's claim and said they will continue to press the party high command to prevail upon the chief minister and direct him to convene a CLP meeting as this is the only way to settle the issue.
The rebel Congress legislators are demanding Sangma's removal, saying that they are not happy with his autocratic style of functioning. They are believed to be pitching for Lapang to return as chief minister.
Sangma was sworn in chief minister April 21, 2010, replacing Lapang, after 21 of the 28 legislators proposed Sangma's name as their new Congress Legislative Party leader.
Meghalaya has seen nine governments with varied combinations, resulting in eight chief ministers between 1998 and 2009. Since Meghalaya attained statehood in 1972, only two chief ministers have completed a full five-year term.