In a highly volatile political environment in North-East’s Manipur, Chief Minister N Biren Singh late on Thursday (September 25) dropped six ministers from the cabinet. Three among them are from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), two from its ally National People’s Party (NPP) and one from Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
Governor Najma Heptulla had accepted the recommendation, according to her letter to the Chief Minister.
In the 60-member Manipur Assembly, the NDA, led by the BJP has 30 MLAs, while the UPA led by Congress has 18 legislators. There are 13 vacant seats. The next assembly polls are due in the insurgency-hit state in 2022.
The Manipur government faced trouble two months ago when the NPP led by Deputy Chief Minister Y Joykumar pulled out of the government days before the Rajya Sabha election to back the Congress. The two Congress turncoats who were inducted on Thursday as ministers had saved the BJP in the Rajya Sabha election, according to reports.
A reshuffle was anticipated since last Monday, after CM Biren Singh accompanied by Manipur BJP chief Saikhom Tikendra Singh met party chief JP Nadda, national general secretaries BL Santosh, Ram Madhav, national vice-president Baijayant Panda and Northeast Democratic Alliance convenor and Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in Delhi.
Three BJP ministers — V Hankhalian, Nemcha Kipgen and Thokchom Radheshyam Singh — and two ministers of ally NPP Jayanta Kumar Singh and N Kayisii, and one from LJP Karam Shyam have been dropped from the cabinet. Kipgen was the only woman minister in Biren Singh’s 12-member cabinet.
Later, five new ministers were inducted in the cabinet in a hurried swearing-in. They include two MLAs who recently left the Congress to join BJP. One cabinet berth has been left open.
The five new ministers inducted into the cabinet are S Rajen Sayabrata and V Valte of BJP and two former Congress turncoats, former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s nephew Okram Henry and Oinam Lukhoi Singh.