Hours before the Nationalist Congress Party-led Meghalaya Progressive Alliance government faces a trust vote on the floor of the state assembly, Meghalaya Speaker B M Lanong on Monday night suspended five legislators, an action that is expected to help Chief Minister Donkupar Roy to win the trial of strength.
"The five MLAs have been placed under interim suspension as members of Meghalaya assembly until final order is issued after hearing them. They will not have right to enter the assembly till further orders," Lanong said.
The MLAs will not be able to attend the proceedings of the assembly during the trust vote on Tuesday, sources said.
The five MLAs are independents, Limison Sangma and Ismail R Marak, the lone MLA of Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) Paul Lyngdoh, also Urban Affairs Minister, who pulled out of Roy-led MPA government.
The MPA government was reduced to a minority in the 60-member assembly after independent legislators Limison Sangma and Ismail R Marak and KHNAM MLA Paul Lyngdoh, Urban Affairs Minister, pulled out of the coalition on March 9.
HSPDP legislator Advisor Pariong, the Health Minister, also resigned from the cabinet on March 11 and Deputy Speaker and NCP MLA Sanbor Shullai has gone "missing".
A day later, Deputy Speaker and NCP MLA Sanbor Shullai also disappeared. The assembly Speaker BM Lanong has served notices to all the deserters under Anti-Defection Law.
After the suspension of the legislators, the strength of MPA is now 28 and opposition Congress 27.
The suspension of the MLAs came after Governor R S Mooshahary had issued a set of directives to the Speaker regarding conduct of the trust vote and asked him not to disturb the status quo of the members' voting rights.
Show-causes were earlier served to all the five legislators based on complaints either from their parties or from MPA for violating the party or the coalition 'whips'. The Speaker had asked as to why action should not be taken against them under Anti-Defection Law.
Sources in Congress, which has already announced its decision to table a resolution the House seeking removal of the "politically biased" Lanong, said the party may pitch for President's Rule if the "Speaker fails to act judiciously".
Congress leaders also indicated the party was contemplating on going to court against the Speaker's action.