Three more ministers – two from ally National People’s Party and one from Lok Janashakti Party – along with three BJP ministers have been dropped from the Chief Minister N Biren Singh-led 12-member cabinet in Manipur in its first reshuffle after the BJP coalition government faced political instability two months ago.
Barring one berth, all the five have been replaced on Thursday itself that, some political observers feel has rather been done in a haste. The new cabinet also includes the two Congress turncoat legislators who had recently joined BJP and were speculated of helping the BJP government during the Rajya Sabha election and the dissent before that.
While S. Rajen, Sayabrata and V Valte were from BJP among the newly inducted, former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s nephew Okram Henry and Oinam Lukhoi Singh were from Congress who had joined BJP.
From ruling BJP, V Hankhalian who held agriculture, veterinary and animal husbandry portfolio, Nemcha Kipgen who held social welfare and cooperation portfolio and Th Radheshyam Singh who held education labour and employment portfolio, has been dropped from the 12-member cabinet.
Kipgen was the only female minister in Biren Singh’s cabinet.
Two from NPP — Jayanta Kumar Singh who held health and family welfare, law, art and culture and CADA portfolio and legislative and N.Kayisii who held Tribal and Hill Areas Development and Fisheries portfolio – and one the lone LJP minister, Karam Shyam held PDS and Consumer Affairs, Weights and measures, revenue and relief and rehabilitation portfolios.
Both the NPP legislators, led by their former Manipur unit president and deputy chief minister Yumnam Joykumar Singh – now stands disqualified from the party — had pulled out of the alliance with another, Letpao Haokip, all with a space in the cabinet, had walked out of the alliance and had joined the Congress.
Following a discussion with party Chief Conrad Sangma along with North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma and the Senior BJP leaders at Delhi BJP headquarters, the four NPP ministers walked into the alliance again.
A reshuffle was on card since last Monday, after Biren, accompanied by Manipur BJP chief Saikhom Tikendra Singh went t Delhi to meet national BJP president J P Nadda, national general secretary B L Santosh, national general secretary Ram Madhav, national vice-president and central observer Baijayant Panda and Northeast Democratic Alliance convenor and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
On Thursday, Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla has “accepted the dropping” of the ministers and “appointed” the five ministers into the new cabinet.