SHILLONG, July 11: The election to the post of Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) will see the National People’s Party (NPP) MDC from Nongkrem, Hispreaching Son Shylla pitted against People’s Democratic Front (PDF) MDC from Nongshken, Grace Mary Kharpuri.
Kharpuri had suddenly decided to pull out of the newly formed Khasi Hills Democratic Alliance (KHDA), which was instrumental in toppling the Pynshngain N Syiem-led People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) executive committee on Tuesday.
Syiem, who earlier led the 28-member PDA coalition EC, quit as KHADC chief before the emergent session of the Council held on Tuesday after 17 members from different political parties including PDF withdrew their support.
Subsequent to his resignation, the 17-member KHDA had unanimously decided to field Shylla as its candidate for the CEM’s post. Kharpuri was one among the four PDF members who were supporting the KHDA.
However on reaching district council premises here on Wednesday, Shylla and other KHDA leaders were shocked when Kharpuri announced her decision to contest the CEM election as a PDA candidate.
Both Shylla and Kharpuri filed their nomination papers before the KHADC secretary.
“We were totally shocked (by Kharpuri’s decision) as she was part of the unanimous decision taken by the KHDA. We thought that she had come to accompany us for filing the nomination but it turned out to be otherwise,” Shylla later said.
Earlier in the KHDA meeting, it was informed that out of the four members who offered to be candidate of the alliance, all agreed that Shylla should contest the CEM post.
Apart from Shylla, the others include HSPDP member Manstudy Nongrem, and two UDP members Teinwell Dkhar and Neil Antonio War.
“We have clearly mentioned that all members who want to contest the post should individually propose their names in the meeting. However, she (Kharpuri) did not come forward to propose her name. Had she did, we would have got the chance to discuss it as the objective was to provide a stable EC so that issues like Them Iew Mawlong, MUDA and others can be taken up in the right manner,” Shylla said.
KHDA secretary and UDP member from Laitumkhrah Neil Antonio War meanwhile said that the alliance had given equal chance to all the 17 members to propose their candidature for the post.
He said the alliance also expressed surprise at the attitude of the Congress members when on Tuesday they submitted their letter of support to the KHDA, only to change their stance and extend support to Kharpuri’s candidature.
“This only shows that the Congress members are immature and are opportunists as they just want to get personal benefits,” he said.
Expressing confidence that Shylla will be elected as new CEM, War further claimed that all the 16 members of the KHDA are intact.
He also said that the KHDA has the support of 5 UDP, 4 NPP, 3 PDF, 3 HSPDP and 1 Independent, while the PDA is only with 9 PDF and 4 Congress.
On the other hand, Kharpuri said that she has decided to withdraw support to the KHDA after seeing division between the UDP and the NPP over the CEM post.
“After Syiem’s resignation yesterday, we were thinking of getting a consensus leader but from the same alliance there were more than three members who wanted the post of CEM. Seeing that there is already division, I fear that after the election, the new EC will is not going to last,” she said.
Stating that only six months time is left before the expiry of the present five years term, she said that the Council still has to take up many pending issues which include the Them Iew Mawlong, traditional heads and others.
“I feel we cannot waste any more time. So I as a responsible woman leader decided that I will contest the CEM post and I hope all members including from KHDA will support me on as we are here for the interest and welfare of our people,” she said.
She also expressed confidence of victory even as she claimed that two PDF members – James Sylliang and Latiplang Kharkongor (who are with the KHDA) – have assured to extend full support to her.
“Before I came here, James Sylliang had met me in my house and he has given me his blessings while Latiplang Kharkongor has also given me his word that he will support my candidature,” she claimed.