Manipur: Six Ministers inducted into Biren cabinet

Sun, 17 Apr 2022 01:01:05 GMT

The N Biren cabinet has inducted six more ministers – five from BJP and one from NPF on Saturday putting at rest all speculations surrounding his ministry expansion. The newly inducted ministers are BJP’s Letpao Haokip of Tengnoupal AC, Dr Sapam Ranjan of Konthoujam AC, L Susindro (Yaima) of Khurai AC, Heikham Dingo of Sekmai AC, Thounaojam Basantakumar of Nambol AC and NPF’s Khashim Vashum of Chingai AC. The swearing in ceremony of the six new ministers was held at the durbar hall of Raj Bhavan here on Saturday at 11 am with Governor La Ganesan administering the oath. Chief Minister N Biren, BJP national spokesperson and Manipur in-charge Sambit Patra, ministers Thongam Biswajit, Yumnam Khemchand, Nemcha Kipgen, Awangbow Newmai and handful of MLAs of BJP, JDU, NPP and independent MLAs as well as top government officials attended the swearing in ceremony.

However, MLAs of different parties including BJP were conspicuously absent at the ceremony. Interacting with the media after the ceremony, chief minister Biren said that with the induction of remaining ministers, the government can now work effectively to serve the public and ensure that the welfare initiatives reach the people at a faster pace. When queried about inequitable representation in the council of ministers, Biren said that ministerial berths are not distributed based on district. The state has 16 districts while the limit is for only 12 ministerial berths. As such, making district the basis of distribution of ministerial berths would not be feasible, he said and explained that the government took some time in inducting the remaining ministers as the party had to assess the situation regarding selection of the six ministers.

Letpao Haokip, who had also remained as a minister in the first term of the Biren government, said that he wants to address the issue of trust deficit between the hill and valley people, which is apparent in the state. Letpao also affirmed to work for doing with poppy plantation through replacement with other cash crops and to provide safe drinking water to every household in the hill districts. Khashim Vashum also expressed concern over the trend of illegal poppy plantation in hill areas and stressed the need for providing an alternate livelihood means to these farmers. According to first-time minister Dr S Ranjan, the Trans Asian Highway being developed under Act East Policy will make Manipur the gateway to South East Asian countries. There is a strong need to develop human resources of the state to grab the opportunities to be brought by the changing global dynamics, he stressed.

Meanwhile, Leishangthem Susindro said that as a minister, he will give more impetus towards intensifying the government’s war on drugs campaign in order to save the youth of the state from the destructive drug menace. In the last term, his activities were mostly confined to Khurai assembly constituency but in the second term, he will expand his area of operation to cover the whole state as he has become a minister and takes it as challenge to take Manipur towards the path of overall development.

Heikham Dingo said that becoming a minister is a whole new responsibility he has to shoulder and he will put his best efforts in fulfilling the public aspirations. Thounaojam Basantakumar said that he will give full support to the welfare activities being taken up by the Biren led government and will dedicate his service towards bringing development and welfare in the society. Mention may be made here that Chief Minister N Biren along with BJP MLAs Thongam Biswajit, Yumnam Khemchand, Konthoujam Govindas, Nemcha Kipgen, and NPF MLA Awangbow Newmai took oath as ministers on March 21 . Nemcha Kipgen is the lone woman in the council of ministers. BJP won simple majority after securing 32 seats in the recent state assembly election. Its ally NPF won five seats and remains part of the BJP led government in the second term too.

Seven MLAs of NPP, six of JD-U, two of Kuki People’s Alliance and three independent MLAs also declared their support to the BJP government leaving only five MLAs of Indian National Congress in the opposition bench. With 55 MLAs under its wing, BJP had a tough time in choosing the leader of the House and distribution of ministerial berths.

As the party was not able to take a decision with regard to the six remaining ministerial berths, Biren stated that the remaining seats will be filled from BJP and its pre-poll alliance NPF. With BJP securing 32 seats, many of its MLAs were in the race for ministerial berths and many of them even went to New Delhi to lobby for ministerial berths with the central leaders. There were also speculations of JD-U, a major NDA ally at the Centre, getting at least one ministerial berth. As MLAs of BJP and other allies missed Saturday’s swearing in ceremony, many are raising question if the distribution of ministerial berths failed to please many. BJP Manipur Pradesh president A Sharda Devi was also present at the swearing-in ceremony.

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