It is almost two weeks after the formation of BJP government in Manipur with CM N Biren as the formidable leader for the second consecutive term. Now, the race for cabinet portfolio in Biren led government is a puzzle game.
On March 21, 6 MLA took oath as Cabinet Minister lead by N Biren. Th Biswajit Singh for the Agriculture, Power, Forest, Environment and Climate Change portfolio; Y Khemchand got a plump portfolio of MAHUD, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, and Education department.
New face of BJP from Bishnupur AC,Govindas Konthoujam has been allocated portfolios of Public Works Department and Youth affairs and Sports while the former Social Welfare Minister, Nemcha Kipgen got the Ministry of Textiles, Commerce and Industry department and Co-operation department.
Naga People’s Front leader Awangbow Newmai was given the Water Resources department and Relief and Disaster Management department.
And CM N Biren has retained home, planning, personnel and administrative reforms department, confidential and cabinet department, vigilance and anti-corruption and information and technology.
In the 11th Assembly election, BJP led government was able to share portfolio among its alliance, the Naga People’s Front (NPF), National Peoples Party (NPP) and Lok Jan Sakti Party (LJP). There were 10 Council of Ministers in the BJP led government.
In the current Assembly election, BJP alone got 32 Seats. However, NPF was given one Cabinet portfolio. Independent MLAs, Kuki Peoples Alliance (KPA), NPP and JDU too extend their support to the BJP government.
In quest of getting portfolio, few MLAs are lobbying in Assam and Delhi. Within 2-3 days, the remaining ministers will be announced soon.
If going by the theory of segment wise, people are expecting one Minister from Tengnoupal/Chandel AC. And former YAS Minister Letpao Haokip who won from BJP ticket is expected to get a Cabinet.
From the Churanchandpur/Pherzawl side, incumbent Vungzagin Valte from the Thanlon AC is hopeful of returning. However,it is expected that Paolienlen Haokip from Saikot AC might replace him. If JDU is lucky enough to be part of the BJP government, then former DGP L M Khaute is also in the contender list for Cabinet Minister from this region.
Ukhrul doesn’t have any BJP MLA. Yet, people are expecting one more NPF MLA will get a cabinet. From Temenglong and Nungba side, Awangbou Newmai was already given Cabinet. Similarly, Nemcha Kipgen from Kangpokpi/Senapati got the lone women Cabinet portfolio.
NPF chief from Nagaland have expressed their desire to get 3 portfolios. If Centre and North East Development Allaince (NEDA) Chairman, Himanta Biwa Sarma supported the NPF demand, then BJP have to sacrifice another Ministerial berth for Mao/Maram region.
If the remaining portfolios are distributed in this manner, then we have 6 Ministers from the Hills and 4 from the Valley. This completes 10 Cabinet of N Biren led government. Two more MLAs from the valley segment will complete a dozen and it will be a perfect government.
However, there are several BJP MLAs hopeful of getting cabinet this time. The lone Schedule Caste BJP MLA from Sekmai AC, H Dingo is in the list. Then we have Sapam Ranjan from Konthoujam AC and Kongkham Robindro, former Deputy Speaker from Mayang Imphal. They are second time BJP MLA from the Imphal West segment. People have ruled out the possibility of Salam Rajen, former Education Minister in the cabinet list.
The new face from Imphal West are Kh Raghumani from Uripok AC, who have defeated Deputy CM Y Joykumar and RK Imo Singh from Sagolband. Even though Raghumani is hopeful of getting a Cabinet berth, RK Imo is out of the race. Reason being he is son in law of CM Biren.
Coming to Imphal East segment, Leishanthem Susindro from Khurai AC and Karam Shyam from Langthabal AC are in the race for Cabinet portfolio. 3 Muslim MLAs are elected this time. One from Jiribam in JDU, one from Lilong in JDU and one from Khetrigao in NPP ticket.
Report from National JDU leaders have indicated that they are in talk for giving porfolio to their MLAs. If this deal is closed, then Md Abdul Nasir from Lilong might be the lone Minority Minister in N Biren led government.
Three valley segments Thoubal, Kakching and Bishnupur districts have strong contenders, former Education Minister Thokchom Radheshyam from Heirok AC, Yumnam Radheshyam from Hiyanglam AC and Th. Bashanta Singh, retired IPS and son of former BJP State President and Union MoS Th Chaoba Singh.
If Centre decided to add one more Ministers each from Thoubal/Kakching, Bishnupur, Imphal East and Imphal West in the Valley segment; one each from Chandel/Tengnoupal, Ukhrul, Mao/Maram and Churachandpur in the Hill segments; two reserved for Schedule Caste and Minorities, then Biren’s Council of Ministers will have 16 Ministers which is impossible.
Will these 6 Ministers from the Hills and 10 Ministers from the valley be a magic formula for a stable government? Everything is possible in BJP government!