IMPHAL, Jul 1: Manipur BJP today raised questions over appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries by “violating” the Constitution. Addressing media at the party office, Election Management convenor of the party Thounaojam Chaoba Singh said his party will approach the Supreme Court after consulting the Central leadership over the matter. “The Congress Government headed by Okram Ibobi Singh had violated the provision under Article 164 of the Constitution while appointing five Parliamentary Secretaries back in 2012,” Chaoba said. After inducting 12 Cabinet Ministers, the Ibobi Ministry appointed five more legislators as Parliamentary Secre- taries when he became the Chief Minister of the State for the third time.
As per the gazette notification, a Parliamentary Secretary enjoys the same status entitled to a minister with regard to salary and rank. “The appointment violated the Constitution. We’ll take up the matter with the Central leadership and then approach the apex court,” he said. “After due amendment was made in 2003, the Article 164 says the total number of ministers, including the Chief Minister, in the Council of Ministers, shall not exceed 15 per cent of the total number of Members in the Legislative Assembly, Chaoba said.
He said, “In the case of Manipur which is a smaller State, the number of sanctioned ministers, including the Chief Minister, is only 12, according to the 91st Amendment of the Constitution.”
Thounaojam Chaoba said the Congress led State Government is violating the Anti-Defection Law in the State.
Manipur, with a 60-member Assembly, is entitled to have 12 ministers including the Chief Minister. However, as per a Bill passed by the Manipur State Legislative Assembly on August 4, 2012, five Parliamentary Secretaries were inducted under the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (Appointment, salary and allowance and miscellaneous provisions) Act, 2012.
These Parliamentary Secretaries are Keisham Megha- chandra (Minor Irrigation, Information and Public Relations), Mairenbam Prithibiraj (Youth Affairs and Sports, Tourism), Victor Keishing (Tribal Affairs and Hills, Information technology), Vungzagin Valte (Horticulture and Soil Conservation, Command Area Development Agency) and Md Amin Shah (Minorities, OBC and SC, Science and Technology).
The above five were inducted as Parliamentary Secretaries on October 5, 2012 as per a gazzetted notification, Chaoba stated. With the five Parliamentary Secretaries allotted with portfolios similar to that of a Minister, it may be said that the State has, in total, 17 working Minister against the entitled 12 by the Indian Constitution. “The Congress led State Government is clearly mocking the Indian Constitution”, Th Chaoba said adding that the BJP State Unit will talk with the BJP leaders at the Centre to impose President’s rule in Manipur. “The party is also set to take the matter to the Supreme Court”, he added.
The BJP State Election Management Committee convenor also demanded the five Parliamentary Secretaries to give up the Government quarters, vehicles and salaries that were provided to them.
On NFSA, Chaoba said there are large-scale irregularities in the NFSA beneficiary list with names of many of ineligible persons, including high class people, figuring on the priority list.
The BJP State Unit have been demanding the State Government to produce a white paper on the distribution of food grain and beneficiary cards under NFSA without much effect. The party has therefore, filed a PIL on the matter. The hearing of the case is scheduled on July 4, he added.