Ahead of bypolls, Congress works to resolve rift in Meghalaya unit

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A last-minute intervention by the Congress high command ahead of bypolls to three Assembly constituencies in the state appears to have prevented a possible split in the party’s Meghalaya unit, but a permanent solution remains a “work in progress”.

The Congress’s Meghalaya unit had landed in turmoil after former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma aired his disappointment over the appointment of Vincent H Pala as the state unit president “without consulting” him in August. As speculation over an imminent split in the party ranks gained momentum, the Congress leadership summoned the two leaders to Delhi.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi met the duo on Sunday, while Congress president Sonia Gandhi met them on Monday. Speaking to The Indian Express after meeting Sonia Gandhi, Sangma, who is now serving as the Leader of Opposition, said: “As I have said, some issues require to be resolved and have to be looked at. There have been back to back meetings. The process is on, the consultations are on. The party will adopt steps that are appropriate,” Sangma said.

Pala sought to downplay reports on the rift.

“It appears there was a gap in communication wherein he (Sangma) was not consulted or taken into confidence during my appointment. I think the Congress leadership tried to call him but he could not be reached as the Assembly session was underway. It is a small issue. There is no personal enmity involved. He is a very senior leader,” Pala said.

Talking to The Indian Express, Sangma underlined the need for political parties to “demonstrate cohesiveness and harmony” and “realise the magnitude of responsibility on them to preserve and protect democracy”.

Specifically asked on whether the Congress will put up a united front in Meghalaya, Sangma said, “The whole objective (of the dialogue process) is directed towards that. All parties face such challenges. We will see how we navigate the issues.”

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