IMPHAL, March 15: Amidst public speculation regarding the allotment of ministerial berths in the new state government, sources from within the state Congress party have stated that a preliminary list of the cabinet ministers have been prepared by the MPCC in advance and later been forwarded to the AICC for consultation and approval.
The Chief Minister along with Gaikhangam and other MLAs are presently camped at the National capital to finalize the matter.
It may be mentioned that both Gaikhangam and Phungjathang are also presently stationed at New Delhi and according to insider source, both are lobbying with the Congress high command for the post of deputy chief minister.
Meanwhile, IPF conducted an opinion poll of the public on the allotment of ministerial berths and on the basic criteria that a minister should have.
According to A Bimol Akoijam, associate professor of JNU, School of Social Sciences , “Okram Ibobi must assign important portfolio to independent ministers rather than himself holding the important departments as done earlier. Particularly Home and Finance should be handled by different ministers. This should ensure a truly “collective leadership” which is characteristics of parliamentary democracy as an administration of “Council of Ministers” with CM as first amongst equal.
“Second, all districts must be represented in the Council of Ministers. Third, tribal development minister must be entrusted to a member belonging to a “minor tribe” rather than those belonging to “major tribe”. Fourth, while keeping with the fact of different communities in the state, one must not allow a notion of “communal representation” to be used or encouraged. Fifth, non-performing ministers; from the earlier Council of Ministers, must be avoided as far as possible, this is a little tricky for the earlier Government as the whole was not performing as it should and it could, but some sort of appraisal must be deployed while selecting a minister. It`s time to restore a semblance of governance in order to turn around the dismal situation in the state”.
Dr. Homen Thangjam, assistant professor of Political Science, MB College stated, “Y. Erabot Singh of Wangkhei Constituency, certainly deserves to be a part of the cabinet. If there is one untainted and upright veteran politician, there is none other than him. Learned and Machiavellian, his swashbuckling act of heroism during the 121 days economic blockade is something that has etched in the public memory. Moreover, he is the only one politician, although part of the erstwhile cabinet, which acted as an opposition and extracted accountability from the Government. Now that the Congress High Command has not deputed him as the Chief Minister, at least he should be given the charge of the Home Affairs to reign in the rogue police personnel.”
Nandini Thokchom, director, Child and Gender Unit of Forum for Indigenous Perspectives and Action (FIPA) commented, “Continuity and change are the key words here”.
“The INC has been given the mandate to continue their rule, but having said that its ‘change’ that we yearn for with parched throats and dried eyes. I would personally wish to see a younger and new faces in the realm – and there are many of them around. Let the old guns do the politics and the new guns shoot for a change and hopefully a better one at that. The verdict has been an intelligent one from a belligerent public. We know that the money flow has to continue and we also want to see how far they can roll on the surface without any loyalty or commitment to the land and its people. This post-election phase would be the biggest challenge in the history of INC in Manipur”, she added.
Assistant professor of Economics department, Professor Chinlen Meisnam stated, “Lack of financial literacy among the elected representatives is a critical issue today. The lack of such awareness in the government is therefore bad news not just for itself, but for the entire population. I think majority of the elected representatives don’t have even the basic idea or a b c of the annual budget.
As a minister, he or she must be individually accountable not only to Assembly but also to people for the discharge of all responsibilities vested in him or her. The individual also must be able to answer all questions pertaining to his areas of responsibilities or portfolios. A minister must demonstrate of taking corrective action, as appropriate and within one’s authority, to address any problems that may arise. This means that a minister must be able to explain and defend the Government’s policies and actions before people, media and academic platforms at all times.
The new government should not forget that as a Ministry, they are collectively accountable to the people, academics and media for all the policies and actions of the Government”.
From another viewpoint, Lokesh Heishnam, artist and lead singer of Eastern Dark who mainly focuses his lyrics on social change stated, “Honesty, sincerity and efficiency with high voltage patriotism is more important at the moment. Knowledge, technical or whatever may be bought or hired as per demand of the situation from experts and academicians. I feel that experienced and seasoned people are needed for good governance but what we need to check is the sort of experience they have. Nowadays, people don’t have experience for good governance but rather for mismanagement and corruption “, he said.
Khelen Thokchom, special correspondent of the Telegraph said, “Educated persons need to be given ministerial berths, the uneducated ones are easily swayed by the high officials of their respective departments. Further, they need to have a sense of patriotism and a willingness to work effortlessly for the development of the state. The uneducated MLAs cannot voice themselves properly to the various platforms where representation is needed at most”, he said.
IFP collected opinions from the above persons to have a brief aggregate on the wants of the public regarding the deputation of ministers. However, hectic lobby by senior politicians is currently underway at Delhi for the coveted cabinet portfolios.