Biren, 8 cabinets take oath, Y Joykumar Deputy CM
Imphal | March 15
Imphal Free Press
Nongthombam Biren became the first BJP Chief Minister of the state. He was sworn in by Governor Najma Heptullah at the Raj Bhawan at 1.23 pm today. The BJP led alliance in an obvious appeasement move inducted all four NPP members in the cabinet, with former DGP and candidate of Uripok constituency, Yumnam Joykumar landing the plum designation of deputy Chief Minister.
L Jayantakumar of Keisamthong constituency, Letpao Haokip of Chandel constituency and N Kayisii of Tadubi constituency were also sworn in as cabinet ministers along with Joykumar. Th Biswajit of Thongju constituency landed a cabinet berth and was the lone BJP candidate beside the Chief Minister. Th Shyamkumar of INC who defected to BJP after election from Andro constituency was also given a cabinet post. During his swearing in, there was laughter from the gathering. He had left the Congress party on Sunday and joined the BJP a day after the election results were announced.
He also had the temerity to walk up to former Chief Minister, Okram Ibobi who too gracefully arrived at the Raj Bhawan for the swearing in function, to shake hands with him. Here too his gesture was received by the gathering with laughter.The NPF had demanded a cabinet berth for L Dikho of Mao constituency and he too got it. Karam Shyam, LJP elect from Langthabal also was given a cabinet berth. In total, the Chief Minister along with 8 cabinet ministers were sworn-in.
The gathering at the Raj Bhavan included CM of Sikkim, Pawan Chamling, Arunachal CM Pema Khandu, Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal, DoNER minister Jitendra , Union minister Prakash Javadekar, Union minister Piyush Goel, NPP president Conrad Sangma and other top leaders of many political parties. The Raj Bhawan hall which has a seating capacity of 200 was flooded as party workers, CPI representatives; NEIDP candidates, judges, executives etc. Many did not get seats. Ibobi himself had a tough time getting in the hall. The program culminated at 1.47 pm.
With Manipur’s ministry size limit fixed at 12 under the Anti-Defection Law, there are now only three cabinet berths to distribute. Observers speculate this could be a source of future discontents with the BJP. The BJP also has to keep its 19 remaining MLA happy or a dissidence movement can start right from the beginning. Himanta Biswa said lifting the blockade is the highest priority of the government and the new Chief Minister will be off to Delhi to talk about the issue tomorrow. Apart from this, development of the region is the key focus area as of now, he said.
On answering the questions on criteria for curbing corruption in the state, he said many system reforms will take place to weed out corruption from within and jobs recruitment process will be one of the first targets. Our priority is to ensure recruitment which is based solely on merit basis. Commenting on the NPF he added, joining hands with the NPF doesn’t dilute their stand on territorial integrity of the state. BJP is still holding onto the goal of bandh free, blockade free and corruption free Manipur, he added.
Biren: from footballer to Chief Minister
A former Congressman, Biren joined BJP just five months before polls
Nongthombam Biren, who on Wednesday was sworn in as the first Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP) Chief Minister of Manipur, is a politician who has donned many hats. A graduate from Manipur University in Arts, Mr. hails from Luwangsangbam Mamang Leikai, a rural area in Imphal East district and has been representing Heingang Assembly constituency in the district since 2002.
The 56-year-old politician, who has been a national-level footballer, served in the central paramilitary forces and also worked as an editor of a local newspaper.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Biren said his foray into active politics began in June 2001, when he along with other leaders started the Democratic Revolutionary People’s Party. Subsequently he joined the Congress.
‘After joining the Congress in 2003, I was Minister of State for Vigilance. Later, I was handed the portfolios of Irrigation and Flood Control along with Youth Affairs and Sports,’ he said.
Speaking about life before politics, he talked about his love for sports and journalism. ‘I got into the BSF through sports quota and sports, particularly football, remains my first love. I served the BSF from 1979 to 1993’, he said. From 1993 to 2002, he said that he was associated with the regional newspaper called Naharlogi Thoudang (Responsibilities of Youth).
During his stint as the editor of the paper, he also had a brush with the law when he was arrested for publishing a statement in April 2000 which the police claimed was ‘anti-national and seditious’.
Once an aide of Ibobi
He was once considered a close aide of Okram Ibobi . He was the spokesperson for the Manipur government between 2007 to 2012 and later spokesperson for the Congress. However things started changing after 2012, when in the last term of the Congress government, he could not make it into Mr. Ibobi ‘s Cabinet. Sources in the Congress say that in the last quarter of 2016, he and certain others lobbied for a Cabinet reshuffle. In the reshuffle, only three Cabinet ministers could be dropped. When offered a Cabinet berth he refused to accept it.
He left the Congress to join the BJP in October 2016, hardly five months before the 2017 Assembly polls. Some photographs at the Manipur Congress headquarters still have Mr. alongside State Congress president T.N. Haokip and other office-bearers.
Dark horse in the BJP
Though relatively new in the party, his elevation as the leader of the BJP legislature party on Monday has been because of a host of factors including the defeat of BJP heavyweights like Thounaojam Chaoba, a veteran politician and BJP State president. Just before the polls K. Joykishan, a prominent BJP leader switched sides and joined the Congress.
Politicians and people cutting across party lines in Manipur, describe Mr. Biren as a very accessible and friendly person. ‘He is also popular in the media and can make friends easily among people from the hills and valley. Biren is also a friend to many of us in the Congress,’ a senior Congress leader said.
Speaking to journalists, Mr. underlined the tough task ahead. ‘The road map for me will be delivering proper governance to the people. I assure the people that our team will bring good governance to the people of Manipur,’ he said.
His first task will be clearing the blockade on the National Highways which has crippled the State for over four months, following creation of new districts. He will also have to manage the two key allies the Naga People’s Front ( NPF) and the National People’s Party ( NPP).
N Biren, Ex Footballer, Is BJP’s First Chief Minister In Manipur: 10 Points
IMPHAL: Former footballer Nongthombam Biren took oath today as Manipur Chief Minister along with eight members of his new cabinet, as the BJP takes charge of another state in the north-east. Like in Goa, the BJP has been generous with ministerial posts for the allies that have helped it reach a majority in the state. Y Joykumar of the National People’s Party (NPP) is Manipur’s new Deputy Chief Minister. Of the seven others who were sworn in today, only one is from the BJP.
Here are the 10 developments in this story:
- A government in Manipur is a major triumph for the BJP as it seeks to win more states in the north east and party chief Amit Shah was to have attended the oath ceremony. His plane, with several union ministers also on board, had to return to Delhi however, because of a technical snag.
- Biren, a former Congressman who joined the BJP only in October last year, was sworn in as Chief Minister at 1.30 pm today along with his council of ministers. Before joining politics the 56-year-old was a national level footballer who was part of a Durand Cup winning Border Security Force team in 1981.
- The BJP moved swiftly in Manipur and Goa to tie-up with small regional parties and independent legislators though in both states it had fewer seats than the Congress.
- The reward of cabinet posts is intended to ensure that these parties’ and individuals will not change their mind when the new BJP chief ministers seek a vote of confidence in the state assemblies.
- Ally National People’s Party, whose four legislators are supporting the BJP in Manipur, has two ministers in the new Biren cabinet including Deputy Chief Minister Joykumar.
- Another ally Naga People’s Front has three new ministers; the Lok Jan Shakti Party’s lone MLA is a minister and even Thounaojam Shyamkumar , who defected from Congress, took oath today.
- The one BJP minister apart from the chief minister is Thongam Biswajit , who was a contender to for the top post.
- Governor Najma Heptullah has said she would like Biren to prove majority on the floor of the assembly ‘as soon as possible, maybe March 22 or 23.
- The Congress, which has won the most seats, 28, could not gather the support of three more legislators to make the 31-seat majority mark.
- The Congress’ Okram Ibobi was the Chief Minister of Manipur for the last 15 years.