SHILLONG, July 13: Nongshken MDC, Grace Mary Kharpuri’s conspicuous absence during the election for the post of Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) resulted in her opponent in Nongkrem MDC, Hispreaching Son Shylla being elected unopposed to lead the Council.
The election was necessitated after the former CEM, Pynshngain N Syiem tendered his resignation letter from the post before the start of the emergent session held earlier on Tuesday after 17 members withdrew their support to Executive Council (EC) led by the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA).
Interestingly, none of the members from Kharpuri’s party the People’s Democratic Front (PDF) or Congress attended the election. This, the newly formed Khasi Hills Democratic Alliance (KHDA) attributed to a fear of accepting defeat.
Quoting the rules, the Pro-tem chairman Teilinia Thangkhiew said, “I hereby declare that HS Shylla has been elected unopposed as the new CEM since the PDA candidate (Kharpuri) is absent, it shall be taken that she has withdrawn her candidature.”
Members of the KHDA which comprises the NPP (4), UDP (5), PDF (3), HSPDP (3), and an Independent also participated in the felicitation ceremony as they expressed confidence on Shylla as a leader with wealth of experience.
Shylla who belongs to the National People’s Party (NPP), was first elected in 1984 and has also held the post of CEM in the past July 28, 2004 to February 5, 2008. He is also a former minister of the state.
Addressing the House as the newly elected chief, Shylla assured that the KHDA-led executive committee under his leadership will ensure the uranium mining is not allowed as this will be akin to going against the wish of the people.
“We will also pass an official resolution to ensure that no Executive Committee can take any decision relating to this matter (uranium mining) without the consent of the House. We will also request the state government to adopt a similar resolution in the Assembly,” he said.
Referring to the allegations that the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) had deposited Rs 20 crore in his personal bank account when he was the CEM in 2004, he said, “The CBI inquiry in its report had found nothing as alleged but nobody is willing to accept this fact.”
He said that the amount of Rs 20 crore for construction of Wahkaji road was not included in the Council’s budget and was deposited in the joint account between the UCIL and KHADC officials in order to prevent diversion of fund.
Stating that he is committed to root out corruption in the Council, Shylla said, “I assure that there will be transparency in the functioning of the new executive committee. I will not sign any letter to drop EMs as I would rather step down myself.”
He recalled that during his term as CEM in the previous EC, he had ordered auctioning of defective vehicles after billing was submitted without actually repairing these vehicles and said, “In this way, I will again streamline the functioning of the district council.”
Shylla said that the Council will also open and close in time (10am to 5pm) and action will be taken against officers and staff who are misusing the office for gambling and drinking. “They (staff) should also respect all the elected members of the House,” he added.
Spelling out his other priorities, he said that his EC will speed up the process of coming up with the Council’s building byelaws, codifying the customary laws and practices of the different Himas besides speeding up the administration of justice.
Meanwhile, Shylla has also asked people who are taking the surnames of their fathers to immediately take corrective measures to avoid confusion.
“It is a serious concern for our matrilineal society as there are more than 50,000 people who are taking their fathers’ surnames. We urge them to take corrective measures,” he said.
Shylla also informed that he would immediately submit the list of Executive Members for approval of the Governor on Saturday.
It may be mentioned here that the election to the CEM post had to be postponed on Thursday after LG Nongsiej had suddenly resigned from the post of KHADC chairman.