Manipur CM to meet Sonia over ministry reshuffle

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Imphal, April 3 (IANS) Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh is expected to leave for Delhi on Monday morning to hold a crucial meeting with the Congress president Sonia Gandhi on the cabinet reshuffle demand.

He would be accompanied by the new state unit Congress president, T.N. Haokip, and Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam.

Since they are understood to have finalised the list of new ministers to be inducted, all they have to do is to get approval for it from Sonia Gandhi.

Dissidents expect the swearing-in ceremony to be held on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the 10 ministers, expected to be dropped, are fighting a last-ditch battle, saying that as 13 dissident legislators have joined them, their camp has 23 Congress legislature party members.

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“Reshuffle is the prerogative of a chief minister and nobody should question or interfere with it,” said Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee president Haokip. He has been one of the prominent dissidents who have sought cabinet reshuffle.

Dissidents, meanwhile, held a victory dinner on Saturday night to celebrate the appointment of Haokip, the new party president. All the 25 dissidents were present at the dinner.

Some legislators contemptuously brushed aside the ministers’ claim that there are 23 members in their camp. “All the MLAs are intact with us. We know that all of us cannot become ministers. It was agreed that first-timers would be made ministers and those former ministers will make room for them,” said one of the legislators on Sunday.

In the 60-member House, the Congress has 48 legislators although it won just 42 seats in the last elections. Six legislators from other parties joined the party later. Out of the Congress legislature party members, as many as 25 are demanding reshuffle.

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