Meghalaya Secretariat staff could be seen rushing to work right on time, since the new government was installed on March 6, 2018. The same was witnessed during the imposition of President’s Rule in the state. Now the state government employees have no other option but to reach work in time as the newly elected Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, himself reaches the office at 10 am sharp in the morning. He makes sure he maintains punctuality, also expecting his office staff to maintain discipline. Is this the first step of ‘Change’ he assured in the manifesto for the February 27 poll?
As mentioned Meghalaya had experienced Central Rule or call it Governor’s Rule twice, the first for over 117 days from October 11, 1991 to February 5, 1992, in the wake of a political crisis after the then Speaker PR Kyndiah suspended five MLAs, mostly independents, on grounds of defection. The second time was for 55 days, with effect from March 18, 2009 to May 12, 2009 after the elected Government was dismissed after a controversial Confidence Vote secured in the Assembly by the then Chief Minister, Dr. Donkupar Roy who is now the incumbent Speaker of Meghalaya.
The work culture of Meghalaya employees has been questioned twice during the imposition of President’s Rule, the first by the then Governor Madhukar Dighe. The second criticism came from the former Governor, Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary. The government employees of course were unhappy during both the periods, while the general masses were happy, as the movement of the files, and execution of all government schemes was in time.
Conrad had in the past too attempted to change the work culture in Meghalaya, when, at the age of 30, he became the youngest Finance Minister of Meghalaya, in the 8th Assembly Session. He amended the list of holidays for government offices only to Second and Fourth Saturday, instead of all Saturdays, in the year 2008. This was strongly opposed by the government employees, which was immediately revoke the moment his government was toppled. Above that he lost his Selsella Assembly Constituency seat in the 2013 election, when he sought re-election to the 9th Assembly Session. He became the most disliked legislator of the Meghalaya Assembly for reducing the off days of the employees. He was elected as the Tura Parliamentary Constituency in the By-election after the demise of his father Purno Agitok Sangma and is yet to resign as an MP.
Conrad as the young Finance Minister was also in charge of Power, Tourism, GAD and IT and presented his first annual budget for Meghalaya within 10 days of debuting as a Minister. This time, he wants to present the Full Budget instead of a Vote on Account as his predecessors normally practice.
Conrad is using his educational experience to the fullest and it may be mentioned that he was brought up in Delhi and was educated at the St. Columba’s School there. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Entrepreneurial Management from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, before completing his MBA in finance from Imperial College London.
He is now practicing what he preaches by reaching the office in time as he knows that it is time for the state government to reform the Administrative services, with more transparent work culture, and the quality of services should not be comprised. Then only will it be more effective and discourage political backing when it comes to jobs. Let the deserving candidate fill the respective post, and let the competitive spirit to excel be the yardstick for promotion. This way, governance will be more effective and also sustainable.
The 46 - year old Meghalaya is now in the custody of the second generation, where most of the Legislators, Bureaucrats, Judiciary, Finance, Education ,Executive and now the Chief Minister are from the second generation since attaining statehood, but the pace of progress is neither modernized nor traditional. Under such a situation, all development and execution of schemes and projects is stagnated, while other states have improved by leaps and bounds.
While protesting against the Official Assamese language Bill, the Hill State Movement formed the All Party Hill Leaders Conference (APHLC) with (L) Capt William A. Sangma as its first chairman; while the faction that opposed Capt William A. Sangma left the APHLC led by W.A. Sangma and formed a separate party with the name Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP). To counter the influence gained by HSPDP in certain areas, APHLC requested Prime Minister on September 3, 1970, to declare Meghalaya as a full-fledged state.
As witnessed in Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), the only surviving Regional Political party of Hill State Movement – HSPDP, under the Leadership of Arden Miller Basaiawmoit was in power only for few months. While in power, Basaiawmoit attempted to restore the traditional system of governance, also keeping to the reason for the creation of the District Councils that is to protect and preserve the traditional customs and culture. But he found very few supporters, and was replaced by a leader with new ideology – Adelbert Nongrum of Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM).
Now the state is under the care of Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA)- a six-party coalition government which comprises of the National People’s Party (19), United Democratic Party (6), People Democratic Front (4), Hill State People Democratic Party (2), Bharatiya Janata Party (2) and Nationalist Congress Party (1) besides 2 Independents, it also means there will be common minimum programme, so the very first action of the Chief Minister to change the work culture of the government employees, might receive the very first opposition from his own coalition partners rather than the Meghalaya Secretarial staff, as no one in the state is acquainted with discipline and punctuality.