Manipur reshuffle row: Ministers claim majority support

Imphal, April 5 (IANS) Ministers in Congress-ruled Manipur say they have majority support in the party — and so don’t want to be axed at the behest of dissidents.

They claim the backing of 26 of the 48 Congress legislators, making it clear it is they and not the dissident legislators who should be appeased.

A minister who did not want to be named told IANS: “We have submitted a memorandum by 26 CLP (Congress Legislature Party) members requesting the high command not to reshuffle the ministry as the next elections are round the corner.

“There is an excellent ministerial team under the leadership of (Chief Minister) Okram Ibobi Singh. If a reshuffle is done now, it will trigger political instability.”

In view of the development, Okram Ibobi and Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam have called off their trip to New Delhi to meet party president Sonia Gandhi.

The chief minister and his deputy were to discuss with Sonia Gandhi a reshuffle of the ministry that would have involved dropping some ministers and inducting in their place some of the dissidents.

Another minister pointed out that a new Congress state president was appointed on the demand of the dissidents.

One cabinet minister was shown in local TV channels as saying that a reshuffle shall never take place. He withdrew the statement later.

The dissidents, however, held a “victory dinner” to celebrate the appointment of T.N. Haokip as the new party president in Manipur.

Sources said Haokip will try to stem the tide at his own level. If he succeeds, the chief minister and the deputy chief minister shall not go to the national capital.

One dissident legislator said: “The party president (in Manipur) has been replaced. This was one of our four demands. We are hopeful that the high command shall not ignore our other demands.”

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