While hundreds of thousands of people in Manipur are struggling to keep their family hearth burning amidst COVID-19 lockdown, Manipur’s political drama continues to play out at New Delhi’s stage. According to sources, it cost Rs. 22 lakhs to charter a flight from Imphal to New Delhi as Chief Minister N Biren took along with him six legislators who had left the Congress Party, along with his son-in-law and Congress MLA R K Imo, to New Delhi.
In what is considered be a move to impress BJP leaders in New Delhi, and a blow to the party MLAs who had revolted against the CM, the ceremony for the five former Congress MLAs joining the ruling BJP was held at New Delhi on August 20, though it could have been held in Imphal.
It appears now the resigned Congress MLAs were not informed of the intent until they reached New Delhi for it may be recalled that after their resignation one of them, Okram Henry, had told media persons in Imphal that they may form a regional party.
Okram Henry is the nephew of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader and former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi. Of the six legislators who resigned from both the Legislature and Congress Party, five namely, Okram Henry, Oinam Lukhoi, Ngamthang Haokip, Ginsuanhau and Paonam Brojen have joined the BJP.
The BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav, National Vice President Baijayant Panda and Manipur Chief Minister N Biren were present at the occasion. However, BJP Manipur President Saikhom Tikendra and Works Minister Thongam Bishwajit who were summoned to Delhi by their national leaders could not be seen at the occasion.
Reports said another Congress MLA, Md. Abdul Nasir, who was expected to join BJP but didn’t join along with the five former Congress MLAs, is likely to join another party, a coalition partner of National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Ministry Reshuffle Speculated
Speculation is doing the rounds that there could be some changes in the BJP-led coalition ministry. BJP central leaders could also discuss the report submitted by the party observers who were recently in Manipur.
Chief Minister N Biren and BJP Manipur Pradesh President Saikhom Tikendra’s stay back at New Delhi awaiting discharge of Union Home Minister Amit Shah from hospital is causing further guesswork while Works Minister Th Bishwajit is already back in Imphal since August 21.
Reports added that the five ex-MLAs who joined the BJP are also in New Delhi. They are expected to meet the Home Minister and BJP National general secretary (North East in-charge) BL Santosh.
However, Bishwajit would fly again to New Delhi when a meeting with Amit Shah is fixed, reports added.
Speculations are also rife that CM N Biren is staying back at New Delhi to seek concurrence of BJP National leaders including Home Minister Amit Shah to drop some ministers from his Council of Ministers to make room for some new faces in a proposed reshuffle.
Cong expels MLA
Chief Minister N Biren’s son-in-law Congress MLA from Sagolband constituency RK Imo was expelled from the Congress Party on August 20 on charge of anti-party activities.
According to an order of the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) issued on August 20 signed by Hareshwar Goshwami, General Secretary (Admn.), RK Imo has been expelled from the Indian National Congress (INC) for six years on the recommendation of the Disciplinary Action Committee of the MPCC with immediate effect.
RK Imo is son of former Chief Minister and Union Minister RK Jaichandra. He cross-voted for the BJP candidate Maharaja Sanajaoba Leishemba for the lone Rajya Sabha seat on June 19, besides constantly hobnobbing with Congress’ prime opponent the ruling BJP. Imo had said he had voted for the better candidate and blamed CLP leader and former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi for the decimation of the Congress. He made these claims in his response to a show cause served to him by the MPCC.
In another press release by RK Imo on August 21, he also contended that MPCC had no reason to expel him from the INC in such a gross and arbitrary manner. “I was expelled by the MPCC despite complying with the INC party whip and also voting in favour of INC on August 10 against the confidence motion raised by the BJP-led state government,” Imo said.
“My expulsion has only proved that CLP leader Okram Ibobi will continue to run the INC as he pleases and the few other so called leaders will blindly follow him without application of mind,” he said.
It was for the very same reason that 6 INC MLAs resigned from their respective seats and the Congress Party, he added stating that these MLAs themselves had said that they resigned from the party due to lack of faith in the CLP leadership.
Drug Probe PIL
After a division bench comprising Chief Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice Kh Nobin of High Court of Manipur on August 18 disposed of the PIL seeking handing over of drugs haul cases to CBI/NIA, a joint representation has been submitted to the Central government and state government on August 19 by User Society for Effective Response (USER), Human Rights Alert (HRA) and Aribam Dhananjoy Sharma (Paojel Chaoba), a journalist.
Raising the drug smuggling issue in Manipur, the representation urged the Centre and the state government to entrust a Central independent agency, like CBI or NIA to investigate all cases involving the seizure of drugs worth more than Rs. 10 crore.
A gallantry medal previously conferred on Sub-Inspector Bheishamayum Debson Singh on the occasion of Patriots Day this year was withdrawn by the state government after it was discovered that he was the same policeman who had been held from the Myanmar border in 2013 in a government vehicle with drugs worth Rs. 3 crores, according to reports.
The foundation stone for 13 highway projects covering a total of 316 kms at a cost of Rs. 3000 cr was laid through video conferencing by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on August 17. The project also includes a Road Safety Project.
Gadkari urged the CM N Biren to expedite the land acquisition and utility shifting work urgently while also promising release of additional funds of Rs. 250 cr from the Central Road Fund as soon as utilisation certificate is received from the state, a report by the IFP said.
The Board of Secondary Education Manipur has notified that candidates of HSLC compartmental examination 2020 have been declared passed in the examination as the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation in the state makes it unconducive to hold examinations in August or early September, reports said.
Home isolation for mild and asymptomatic cases has been introduced by the health department in Manipur. Pregnant women and minors below 10 years will be given priority in asymptomatic cases and the health department is also providing returnable Oximeter, masks, gloves and hydrochloride solution, according to reports.