Shillong: Abu Taher Mondal of Congress Monday scripted history by becoming the first non-indigenous legislator to be elected the assembly speaker in the tribal state of Meghalaya.
Mondal was unelected unopposed as the 15th speaker after the nomination paper of Hill State People`s Democratic Party (HSPDP) legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit was found invalid.
The opposition HSPDP, which has four members in the 60-member house, skipped Monday`s special session of the assembly in protest against Mondal`s nomination.
Mondal said he does not only represent the non-tribal population of the state but the tribal population too.
"Though my name or look does not resemble the tribal people but I assure that none of my actions will let down the faith reposed on me by the tribal brothers and sisters," the newly elected speaker said.
A former power minister, Mondal was elected to the assembly for the third time from Phulbari constituency.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma praised Mondal.
"It is the proud privilege of every citizen of the state that we have been able to send a positive message that Meghalaya provides space for all members irrespective of caste, creed and community," he said.
Opposition leader Donkupar Roy, chief of the United Democratic Party, urged the speaker to be neutral.
In the 60-member house, the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance-II has 29 Congress members. It is supported by two Nationalist Congress Party legislators and 11 independents.
The opposition Meghalaya People`s Front is made up of eight United Democratic Party legislators, two from the National People`s Party and two independents.