Manipur BJP government drops six cabinet ministers, inducts five new faces

Former MLAs Okram Henry, Oinam Lukhoi among newly inducted ministers

The highly anticipated reshuffle in the BJP-led coalition government of Manipur finally came into effect on Thursday with the induction of five new faces in the N Biren Singh Ministry by dropping six cabinet ministers.

Of the six ministers removed, three were from the BJP, two National People’s Party (NPP) and the lone Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). The BJP ministers are Education Minister Th Radheshyam, Agriculture Minister V Hangkhanlien and Nemcha Kipgen, the only woman minister in the coalition government.

Health Minister L Jayantakumar; Tribal Affairs Minister N. Kayisii of NPP and CAF& PD Minister Karam Shyam of LJP were the other three dropped by CM Biren.

The reshuffle comes two days after Manipur chief minister returned to Imphal from New Delhi accompanied by BJP national vice president Baijayant Panda.

The CM along with BJP Manipur president S Tikendra Singh rushed to the national capital on Monday to meet central leader, including Union Home Minister, BJP national president J.P Nadda.

N Biren said that the reshuffle was carried out as a routine matter. The decision has been taken in the national level with the sole objective of bringing progress in development of the state, he said.

He expressed confidence that the government will be able to perform better with the reshuffle. “Earlier also, we are performing but development will progress with the reshuffle,” he added. 

Although six cabinet ministers were dropped, only five were inducted on Thursday in the swearing in ceremony held on Thursday at Raj Bhawan, the official residence of Manipur Governor, Dr Najma Heptulla.

The fresh faces inducted in the Biren Singh-led ministry include two former Congress MLAs who had defected to BJP and three sitting MLAs of BJP. One of the former Congress MLAs is Okram Henry Singh, the nephew of former Chief Minister of Manipur Okram Ibobi Singh and Oinam Lukhoi of Wangoi. The newly sworn in cabinet ministers of the BJP are Thanlon MLA Vungzagin Valte, Yasikhul MLA Thokchom Satyabrata and Lamsang MLA Sorokhaibam Rajen. The distribution of portfolios remains unclear till the time of filing this report.

BJP national vice president, Baijayant Panda said that reshuffle improves the stability of the government and it is important to have a stable government considering the developmental projects being taken up.

When asked whether he implied instability of the government earlier, he opined “Any government which has served more than three years under the same chief minister is of course stable.”

Stating that BJP is committed to giving a stable government to Manipur in order to deliver development, he said that big projects including railways are underway in the state.

“Within two years, we expect the railway project to happen and similarly, very large scale projects for water and so many other things are being taken up for the development of the country and especially the Northeast,” he said.

He went on to say that the BJP is committed to implementing the governance agenda of the BJP under the leadership of prime minister Narendra Modi.

Regarding the one vacant berth, Panda said that the party will decide in the near future taking into account all the factors involved.

The reshuffle comes ahead of the by-election due for 13 assembly constituencies which are lying vacant. Of the total vacant seats, the Election Commission of India (ECI) had declared five constituencies as “clear vacant” due for by-election. They are Wangoi, Wangjing Tentha, Lilong, Saitu and Singhat. The eight remaining constituencies were not included in the list of clear vacancies owing to the pending election petition cases in the court.

First Published:Sept. 24, 2020, 9:15 p.m.

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