Manipur: NPF MLA Awangbou Newmai sworn in as cabinet minister

Naga People's Front MLA Awangbou Newmai on Friday took the oath as minister in the BJP-led Manipur government.

Naga People’s Front (NPF) legislator Awangbou Newmai of Tamei in Tamenglong was sworn in as cabinet minister in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government of Manipur on Friday in the presence of Chief Minister N Biren Singh and other state leaders. The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Raj Bhawan, Imphal, and the oath of office was administered by Governor Najma Heptulla.

Newmai is an MLA from Tamei Assembly constituency of Tamenglong district and president of NPF Manipur unit. The NPF, a regional party based in Nagaland, is one of the major parties of the coalition government. After being sworn in as minister, Newmai expressed his gratitude to the governor and the chief minister of Manipur for appointing him a minister and said that he will discharge his duties as a minister and whatever assignment is given to him with utmost sincerity.

The development comes after nearly two months of Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Y Joykumar Singh of the National People’s Party (NPP) was stripped of his portfolios. Joykumar stayed away from the swearing-in ceremony while all other ministers, MLAs, MPs, chief secretary and the DGP among others attended it.

Joykumar was stripped of all his portfolios on April 9, following a controversy over rice distribution in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the NPF, Joykumar’s NPP is another major partner of the alliance with four MLAs supporting the government.

Before being stripped of the portfolios, Joykumar took over the charge of all the portfolios of Manipur Forest Minister Shyamkumar. On March 18, a Supreme Court order ceased Th Shyamkumar from his ministership in response to a disqualification petition filed by Congress MLAs under the anti-defection law. Subsequently, Shyamkumar also tendered his resignation.

The chief minister had taken over all the portfolios that were held by Joykumar. The portfolio were Municipal Administration, Housing & Urban Development, Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Science and Technology and Economic and Statistics. However, it remains to be seen what portfolios will be given to Newmai. On being asked about portfolio, he said that “whatever CM offers, he will graciously accept”.

Although the NPF has four MLAs supporting the government, the party was given only one ministerial berth. Its ally NPP has four ministers. Hence, the NPF has been demanding more cabinet berth in the Biren Singh ministry.

First Published:May 29, 2020, 1:52 p.m.