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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
The autumn session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly which concluded on November 12, 2020, witnessed the raising of several issues from coal mining, law and order, COVID-19 right down to implementing the amendments to the Meghalaya Residents’ Safety and Security Act (MRSSA) and the long-pending demand for an Inner Liner Permit (ILP).
The no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition against the Conrad Sangma-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government on November 11, was, but a formality, as the outcome became quite obvious the ruling defeated the motion.
While some replies were satisfactory, others did not seem to appease the members who raised the questions with coal mining being one such issue.
With allegations being raised on the actual prevalence of extracted coal and the claims made by the government, the Opposition was not convinced even as it reiterated that the figures provided by the government don’t tally with the existing coal on the ground.
Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma kept on insisting that coal transportation was being done legally with the knowledge of everyone concerned.
“If you make allegations, provide proof,” Conrad had said, to which Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma replied, “You want proof? It is everywhere. The truth is unpleasant, but it will be pleasant if the government acts on it.”
The debate over alleged illegal mining and transportation of coal is unending, it will continue to dominate platforms of discussion even outside the House.
Apart from the serious talks, the House also witnessed verbal tussles between members of the House – between Congress MLA from Umroi George B. Lyngdoh and Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong over the “homework” comment made by Power Minister James P.K Sangma, and between Congress MLA from Rangsakona Zenith Sangma and Gambegre MLA Saleng Sangma over the law and order discussion.
Meghalaya has a proud legacy of maintaining discipline and decorum in the House while the session is on - something which the members of the Parliament should learn.
There were, of course, one or two incidents where unparliamentary words were uttered.
In 2019, Gambegre MLA Saleng Sangma lost his cool over a faulty sound system and uttered an expletive; similarly, this year, Saleng lost his composition, banged the table and uttered yet another expletive.
However, it was the BJP MLA from South Shillong, Sanbhor Shullai, who brightened the mood of the House with his “vaccine of God” statement.
“Till today, no one has produced the vaccine. I invented the vaccine of the COVID eight months ago,” Shullai told the House which, at this point of time, was filled with laughter, to where even Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh commented, “WOW”.
Hilarious as it sounds, Shullai was referring to the irony of the situation.
He pointed out that beggars, who care not about the contagious virus but about what they should eat, remained unharmed and untouched.
“It was strange because you will find nowhere in the health Department's record that a beggar died of COVID-19. Why? Because they have the vaccine of God,” Shullai said.
It struck a balance (hypothetically); a tense moment, a conversational session, a satirical twist to the deadly pandemic and of course, the strength of the House.
What we the citizens can do is ‘wait and watch.’
Whether assurances made in the floor of the House would materialise or only remain in the proceeding records of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly remains to be seen.