Naga People’s Front (NPF) MLA Awangbou Newmai was sworn in as cabinet minister in Manipur’s BJP-led coalition government Friday.
The development comes nearly two months after the state Deputy Chief Minister, Y. Joykumar Singh, of the National People’s Party (NPP), was stripped of his portfolios.
The swearing-in ceremony was held at the Raj Bhawan, the official residence of the Manipur Governor, amid the Covid-induced nationwide lockdown. The oath of office was administered by Manipur Governor Dr Najma Heptulla.
Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, his council of Ministers, MLAs, MPs, Chief Secretary and DGP among others were present at the swearing-in-ceremony. However, Y. Joykumar Singh did not attend.
The newly-sworn in minister said he is “grateful to the Governor and Chief Minister of Manipur for making him as one of the minister in the Biren Singh ministry”.
Awangbou Newmai, was elected from the Tamei Assembly constituency of Tamenglong district on NPF ticket. He is also the president of NPF Manipur unit. The NPF, a regional party based in Nagaland, is one of the major party of the coalition government.
On April 9, Y. Joykumar Singh was stripped of all his portfolios following a controversy over the distribution of rice pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic. Like the NPF, NPP is another major partner of the alliance with four MLAs supporting the government.
Manipur Chief Minister had taken over all the portfolios stripped from Joykumar Singh. The portfolios were Municipal Administration, Housing & Urban Development, Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Science and Technology and Economic and Statistics.
However, it remains to be seen whether the portfolios will be handed over to Newmai. On being asked about the portfolio, he said that “whatever CM offers, he will graciously accept”.
Despite the fact that NPF has four MLAs supporting the government, the ally was given only one ministerial berth. Its ally NPP, however, has four ministers. As such, NPF has been demanding more cabinet berth in the Biren Singh ministry.
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