Manipur CM says political problem in state will settle down soon

Imphal: On returning from Delhi where he met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has said the political crisis which recently engulfed the state will settle down soon.

This was Biren’s first visit to the national capital after braving resignations by four ministers from ally National People’s Party (NPP) and their subsequent return to the NDA fold following intervention of Shah and Nadda.

On arrival from Delhi Friday evening, the chief minister underwent a coronavirus test at Imphal airport itself and left for home only after the sample tested negative for the virus.

“Delhi visit was quite well and central leaders were very happy about the crucial victory in the Rajya Sabha election in Manipur,” he told reporters at the airport.

In the June 19 election for the lone Rajya Sabha seat from Manipur that took place in the background of the political crisis triggered by resignations of nine ruling coalition members, BJP’s candidate Leishemba Sanajaoba had defeated the Congress rival.

Besides the four NPP ministers, three BJP rebels, the lone All India Trinamool Congress legislator and an Independent MLA had quit the BJP-led coalition in Manipur on June 17.

After deft handling of the situation by BJP’s key leader in the Northeast Himanta Biswa Sarma and Meghalaya Chief Minister and NPP national president Conrad Sangma in close cooperation with the central leadership, the four NPP legislators later submitted letter of support in favour of Biren Singh to Governor Najma Heptullah.

Responding to queries about the portfolios which are yet to be announced for the NPP ministers, Biren said, “Central leadership doesn’t interfere much. Ours is a national party. It is my duty to seek the advice and suggestions of the national leaders”.

Distribution of portfolios in the cabinet was one of the important reasons cited by the NPP ministers while walking out of the government.

“I think, at the earliest, there will be a solution for everything with the blessings of the central leaders for the convenience of all,” he said.

On being allotted Z security cover, he said he had no knowledge and came to know about it after meeting the Union Home Minister on July 1.

“I myself did not have any knowledge of it and I was surprised”, he said, adding that it must be based on the inputs of intelligence agencies.

Days after overcoming the political crisis, Biren Singh had gone to Delhi on Tuesday to meet NDA’s central leadership to discuss allocation of portfolios to his ministers.

After end of the political trouble, Biren Singh is facing another challenge in meeting ministerial aspirations of his own party MLAs and also allies for which he is likely to seek guidance from the central leaders.

While the four NPP legislators are all set to regain their position in the cabinet, the chief minister has to deal with the heightened aspirations of some BJP legislators to become ministers, besides those of the former Congress legislators who had defected to the saffron party shortly after the last state election in 2017.

Out of the seven defecting Congress MLAs whose cases under the anti-defection law were heard by the Manipur High Court and the Speaker’s Tribunal, the membership of four has been restored and they even voted in the Rajya Sabha election for the lone Manipur seat.

There have been reports that another ally – the Naga People’s Front (NPF) with four legislators in the 60-member House – which stood with the saffron party during the turmoil is demanding parity with NPP in the cabinet.

While NPP has four ministers, the NPF has two members in the cabinet.

As per constitutional provisions, there can be a maximum 12 ministers in the state, including the chief minister.