No cabinet reshuffle in Manipur, says minister

Imphal, March 20 (IANS) There will be no reshuffle in the Manipur cabinet, minister K. Ratankumar said on Sunday, as Congress president Sonia Gandhi summoned Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh and his deputy Gaikhangam after a group of 25 dissidents demanded dropping of “non-performing ministers”.

“There is no question of reshuffle in the state. All differences could be thrashed out through negotiations,” Works Minister Ratankumar, known to be a close associate of Okram Ibobi, said at a public function here.

“The party high command has not given any directive for a reshuffle,” he said.

Okram Ibobi has had two rounds of talks with Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi over the dissidents issue, but they were inconclusive.

The ruling Congress has 48 legislators in the assembly.

The group of 25 dissidents are demanding complete reshuffle of the ministry and enforcement of the ‘one man one post’ policy so that Gaikhangam is either dropped from the ministry or relieved of the state unit presidency.

Sources said the demands of the dissidents “remain unchanged” and it was not immediately known what prompted Ratankumar to say there would be no reshuffle, as he was not the government spokesperson.

The dissidents are also demanding dropping of some “non-performing ministers” including Ratankumar.

Manipur is scheduled to go to the polls in February 2017.

Most of the dissidents are hoping that through a cabinet reshuffle, they get to become ministers with an eye on the forthcoming elections.

In the past, Ibobi and his associates never yielded to the dissidents. However, this time, the dissidents have made it known that they may take some other steps since they cannot go empty handed to the voters.

Ibobi and Gaikhangam may meet Sonia Gandhi on Sunday night or Monday morning, and are expected to return here by Monday evening.

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