Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has reallocated portfolios of ministers, shedding some of his own departments which have now been allocated to his deputy Y Joykumar Singh. The Deputy Chief Minister, who is from NPP, has got Finance, Science & Technology, and Economics and Statistics portfolios, according to an official order issued by Chief Secretary J Suresh Babu. The development comes after the state government went through a political crisis last month following a patch-up with disgruntled ally NPP.
The Chief Minister retains Home, Personnel, Planning, General Administration Department, Vigilance, Transport, Minor Irrigation, Tourism and Minority Affairs.
He will also hold Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Caste, Information Technology, Housing and Urban Development, Horticulture and Soil Conservation, and any other departments not allocated specifically, the order issued late Sunday night added. Earlier, Joykumar Singh was divested of many portfolios and was left with only the charge of the civil aviation department.
Trouble had started for the BJP-led coalition government in Manipur after the chief minister withdrew ll major portfolios from the his deputy for criticising him at a public function.
The resignation of MLAs had caused a setback to the N Biren Singh-led BJP government as it has lost its majority in the Assembly. As many as eight MLAs from the National People’s Party (NPP), TMC and the BJP have now joined the Congress. They are four from the NPP, three from the BJP, one from the TMC, and an independent MLA from Jiribam.
The three BJP MLAs who resigned are T T Haokip, S Subaschandra Singh and Samuel Jendai. The four NPP MLAs were, Deputy CM Y Joykumar Singh, Tribal and Hills Area Development Minister N Kayishii, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Letpao Haokip and Health and Family Welfare Minister L Jayanta Kumar Singh.
With the return of the four NPP ministers, the BJP-led coalition has maintained the same set of ministers. The exercise also dashed hopes of some BJP legislators and Congress defectors of becoming ministers.
Another ally, the Naga People’s Front (NPF) with four legislators in the 60-member House, which was demanding parity with NPP in the cabinet, also did not make any fresh gains. While NPP has four ministers, the NPF has two members in the cabinet.
As per constitutional provisions, there can be a maximum 12 ministers in the state, including the chief minister.
Regarding three other NPP ministers in the government, Irengbam Arunkumar, Media Advisor to the Chief Minister, told PTI Monday that the resignation letters submitted by four NPP ministers were never accepted, hence they would continue to hold the same portfolios they had earlier.
Accordingly, Langpoklakpam Jayantakumar Singh retains Health and Family Welfare, Law and Legislative Affairs, Art and Culture and Command Area Development Authority; Letpao Haokip is the minister for Water Resources, Youth Affairs, and Sports and N Kayisii is the minister for Tribal Affairs, Hill Areas Development and Fisheries, the Media Advisor to the CM said.
However, Congress had alleged foul play in how BJP brought back the MLAs.
Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken pointed out that after the results of the 11th Assembly election were declared in Manipur, which threw up a fractured mandate with the Congress getting 28 seats, BJP 21, NPP four, NPF four, LJSP one, AITC one and one Independent, the grand old party was not invited by the governor to form the government. Instead, the invitation was extended to the BJP, which cobbled up a post-election alliance with the remaining parties, he said.
Maken said that BJP violated every rule in the statute and used every unethical trick, including misuse of probe agencies, to remain in power in the northeastern state. “Since the declaration of the election results for the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly, there has been a sinister effort by the BJP to install their party in power.”
He alleged that the speaker passed a series of orders in a pick-and-choose method, disqualifying three MLAs who supported the “no-confidence motion” moved by the Congress, while an anti-defection disqualification petition against three other legislators of the grand old party, who continued to support the BJP government, was dismissed.