SHILLONG: Former Congress chief minister Mukul Sangma on Friday was elected as the legislative party leader of the newly formed All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) in Meghalaya, officials said.
A delegation of the newly formed TMC legislature party in Meghalaya will be flying to Kolkata next week to discuss the "burning issues" concerning the state including implementing an Inner Line Permit (ILP) with the party's chairperson Mamata Banerjee.
Sangma's expected elevation was formalised during the first legislative party meeting of the AITC held at the residence of the former Congress leader here.
The meeting, which was attended by all the 12 MLAs who defected from the Congress to TMC on Thursday, also elected Umroi legislator George B Lyngdoh as the Opposition chief whip and Mawsynram legislator Himalaya Shangpliang as secretary.
Since the merger of the breakaway faction of the Congress has been ruled as valid by Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh, the AITC is now the principal opposition party in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.
At the meeting, Mukul thanked all the MLAs for reposing their faith in him as leader under the new political party, an official of the TMC said.
TMC leaders also said the Congress is free to legally examine the decision of the 12 MLAs to part company with the Congress and merge their faction with Trinamool Congress.
"Legally, they (Congress) are most welcome to examine, there is no problem in that," said Shangpliang.
He was reacting to a statement made by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge Meghalaya Manish Chatrath that the legal team of the party would look into the matter if any legal action is to be taken against the 12 defecting MLAs.
Shangpliang however maintained that the decision to merge with the new party was done after they have duly consulted the constitutional experts.
"We have not just submitted the paper without examination. Our legal team has done its due diligence in preparing the paper and document for us. We have also duly consulted the Constitution of India, every paragraph relevant has been adhered to," he added.
He pointed out that Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh had "himself turned the pages of the Constitution of India and he seemed satisfied" and allowed all the 12 members to sign the attendance.
After the meeting, Shangpliang told reporters that the 12 MLAs are committed to work hard in reaching out to people of the state.
"We have decided that all of us will contribute to the development of the state," he said.
Shangpliang also said the newly formed parliamentary party will meet the chairperson of the AITC, Mamata Banerjee on November 29.
"Our leader (Mukul) is leading us in a delegation to Kolkata to meet the chairperson of the All India Trinamool Congress on Monday. We are going to have more detailed discussions on the future of the party in our state," he said.
Sources in the AITC said that the former Assembly Speaker and Nongthymmai legislator Charles Pyngrope is likely to be appointed as president of the AITCC in Meghalaya.
Refusing to comment anything on this, Shangpliang however said, "We will be announcing that (decision) on our return from Kolkata after we have detailed discussion with our senior leaders in Kolkata."
When asked, the AITC leader said that all "burning issues of the state including the demand for implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) will be taken up for discussion" with the party's chairperson.
He assured, "We are going to vigorously pursue these demands with the state government as well as with the central government."
"We are very fortunate that we have joined a party which has got a good presence in both the lower and upper houses of the parliament and therefore, we can utilize the services of the representatives that this party has in the parliament. Therefore, we could raise our voice in the parliament pn the demand for an ILP for the state," Shangpliang said.