Amid the uproar, the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly on Wednesday reposed confidence in the Conrad K Sangma-led government by rejecting a no-confidence motion moved by Opposition Congress by a voice vote.
“The Nos have it and the no-confidence motion is lost,” Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh said as he wound up the session of the day.
The motion was put to vote after the Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma announced that the opposition has taken a collective decision not to withdraw the no-trust motion because the government seems to be not willing to come out clear on the various allegations.
All 40 ruling MLAs voted against the NC except the lone Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) legislator, Adelbert Nongrum, who decided to neither support the government nor the opposition.
During the debate on the no-confidence motion, the opposition Congress launched a scathing attack against the MDA government for its alleged failure to protect the interest of the state with specific reference to illegal mining and transportation of coal, corruption in the power department, law and order and others.
“To sum up, the government has failed to protect the interest of the state. How much time do we want to give this government which is robbing the state?” Mukul said.
Responding to the allegations, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said that the opposition should have a big heart to accept that development is taking place and realize the need to support the present state government for its works.
“If we have failed as alleged by the opposition, how come there is no abduction of civilians from 210 cases during their time to zero today? How come we managed to lift the ban on coal mining, which they could not do during their time? How come the COVID numbers are the lowest today in our state? How are these 40 MLAs supporting us today? Why did the Public Index of 2020 rank us as the second best governance state in the country today?” Conrad asked.
Stating that it was misleading and wrong on the part of the opposition to allege that law and order during the past two and half years have been the worst period in the state, the chief minister said 66 militants, 36 civilians and 9 police personnel were killed during the period 2015-2017 while only 3 militants, 4 civilians and 1 police personnel were killed from 2018 to 2020. A total of 210 civilians were abducted in 2015-2017 while it was zero from 2018-2020.
He also informed that the cases on crimes against women have dropped by 33 percent from 2017-2018 and POCSO cases by 13.1 percent. “Aren’t these indications to show clearly that the law and order have improved in the state,” he said.
Relating to communal tension, the chief minister said in 2013, there were petrol bombs that were hurled in the puja pandals in Ri Bhoi and Umsning and by God’s grace our puja celebrations went off peacefully.
On the alleged mining and transportation of coal, the chief minister has categorically maintained that there is no illegal movement of coal and that any of the transportation is taking place legally with proper documents.
“In fact the revenue that is coming in has been manifold (from the seized coal),” he said.
Quoting the audit report, Conrad said illegal coal to the tune of 27.87 lakh metric tons was transported during 2013-2018 leading to a revenue loss of Rs 180 crore.
He further stated that in January 2018, 6.9 lakh Mt of coal was sent for assessment without any GPS location, and around 43 applications were received. “How can you (Congress) give assessment without GPS locations?” he asked.
The chief minister further slammed the Congress for failing to resolve the ban on coal mining by the National Green Tribunal in 2014.
“After 2014, when NGT ban took place, the opposition who was then in the ruling did not resolve the matter. It is only in 2018, we took initiative to discuss with the government of India and we challenge it (NGT order) in Supreme Court and we were able to deliver justice,” he said while adding that the ruling of the Apex court has further reinforced the land rights of the people of the state.