IMPHAL, March 28 : After what seemed a stalemate, 49 days since the last ministry expansion on March 13, Okram Ibobi today finally inducted eight ministers to fill up the remaining berths bringing up the strength of the SPF government to the requisite dozen mark.
The swearing in ceremony was held at Raj Bhawan at 4 pm and attended by the Chief Minister,other Congress and MSCP MLAs including top level officers of various state departments.
Governor of the state, Gurbachan Jagat administered the oath of office and swore in I Hemochandra ,K Govindas, M Okendro, Ngamthang Haokip, Francis Ngajokpa, Kh Ratankumar, Ak Mirabai and Md Abdul Nasir as cabinet ministers.
Okram Ibobi, Gaikhangam,Th Debendra and Phungzathang Tonsing had earlier taken the oath of office and secrecy on March 13.
Though first timers, Ak Mirabai and Md Abdul Nasir bagged cabinet berths. The two were incucted against reserved quotas of women and minorities. Other than them, Kh Ratankumar of Mayang Imphal have been given cabinet berths for the first time.
There were also prominent absentees from today’s function and they include included former minister N Biren and Y Irabot.
The Chief Minister in a brief meeting with media in the sidelines of the event stated that there may be a change in his cabinet soon and new MLAs may be inducted. He said that the expansion took time as every contingency had to be discussed.
“With the support of the public, we have 42 Congress MLAs and have to discuss and balance the distribution of power”, he said adding that district and community wise areas had to be prioritized in his cabinet.
Ibobi also hinted the possibility of appointment of parliamentary secretaries in his government to placade the deserving MLAs. He stated that some former ministers have been dropped from his cabinet and fresh faces have been inducted. “It’s not that the old ministers have been incompetent, but we want to provide opportunities to other MLAs also”, he said.
It may be mentioned that N Biren , K Ranjit, L Nandakumar, TN Haokip,Y Irabot and N Loken have been dropped. The district wise allocation of seats have left Chandel and Ukhrul with no representation, but in ethnic representation, Francis Ngajokpa, a Naga and Ngamthang Haokip belonging to the Kuki community have been included,both are from Senapati district. Imphal East representation has been adjusted by Th Debendra of Jiribam sub division.
I Hemochandra and Th Ratankumar are both from Imphal West. Ak Mirabai Devi of Patsoi, the sole woman in the ministry also belongs to Imphal West.Md Abdul Nasir, given ministerial berth for the minorities quota hails from Thoubal District along with M Okendro Singh and the Chief Minister totaling 3 seats from Thoubal and Imphal West.
Churachandpur and Tamenglong are represented by Phunzathang Tonsing and Gaikhangam respectively.