Axe one, and all will quit: Manipur ministers tell CM

Imphal, April 1 (IANS) Manipur’s ministers have told Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh that all of them will quit if he drops even one from the ministry to placate dissidents, a minister said on Friday.

The ministers conveyed the decision to the chief minister after a meeting amongst themselves here.

“If any minister is dropped, all of us will resign en masse,” a minister who did wish to be identified by name said.

The ministers’ threat is the latest crisis to hit the chief minister, who has battling mounting dissidence within the Congress legislature party.

Manipur, with a 60-member assembly, is entitled to have 12 ministers which includes the chief minister.

After the new crisis became public knowledge on Thursday night, Ibobi Singh cancelled his visit to New Delhi on Friday to submit a list of ministers who will be axed to induct new faces.

Meanwhile, Charltolian Amo, chairman of the Hill Areas Committee, has resigned from the post of vice president of the Manipur Congress unit.

Party sources said he was upset over the replacement of Gaikhangam as the Manipur Congress president by T.N. Haokip.

One Minister told IANS that the dissidents’ demand was unreasonable. They want the axing of ministers whose performances was below the mark.

But the ministers argue that if any of them is dropped to accommodate the dissidents, it will give an impression that the axed ministers were involved in corruption or were non-performers or both.

This will impact their prospects in the next assembly elections.

Meanwhile, the dissident leaders have reaffirmed their stand that 11 of the 12 ministers need to go. They also want Sepaker T. Lokeswor to resign.

One dissident legislator told IANS that they have no objection to whoever the chief minister picks in the new ministry.

This is the first time in the political history of Manipur that dissidents are demanding the dropping of all ministers except the chief minister.

Ibobi Singh had said that at the end of two-and-a-half years, the ministers would be replaced by another lot. But he did not keep his word.

It is not known what the 25 dissidents would do if their demands are not conceded.

Ibobi Singh has been discussing the crisis with some senior ministers and dissident leaders but there is no visible breakthrough.

Opposition parties say the crisis in the Congress cannot be seen as “an internal matter” of the ruling party as it affects governance in the state.

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