GUWAHATI: The three-year-old alliance between BJP and National People’s Party (NPP), both part of Manipur’s ruling coalition, is now at stake after Deputy Chief Minister Y Joykumar Singh of the NPP was stripped of all his portfolios by Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Thursday.
A notification issued by Chief Secretary Dr. J Suresh Babu said, “In pursuance of Rule 6 (1) of the Rules of Business of the Government of Manipur, the Governor of Manipur, on the advice of Chief Minister, Manipur, is pleased to reallocate the portfolios of MAHUD, Forest, Environment & Climate Change, Science & Technology, Economics & Statistics earlier held by Shri Y. Joykumar Singh, Deputy Chief Minister to Shri N. Biren Singh, Chief Minister, Manipur.”
What apparently made the CM go for his deputy’s jugular was the latter’s outbursts over alleged lack of distribution of rice for COVID-19-affected poor people in his Uripok constituency.
The development came hours after BJP MLA, S Rajen, had thrown a gauntlet at all four NPP Ministers, including Joykumar, to quit the ministry in case they were unhappy with Singh’s leadership.
Joykumar had described the CM’s assurance of food security during the period of lockdown as “hogwash” and “gibberish”. He was miffed that rice, allocated to his constituency, was not enough. The BJP MLA Rajen had said if the allocation was not sufficient enough, Joykumar could have taken up the matter with the CM.
After the 2017 Manipur elections, the BJP had formed the government with the support of NPP, Naga People’s Front and others.
In the 60-member House which now has an effective strength of 59 after a Congress MLA, who had defected to the BJP, was disqualified by the Speaker following an order of the Supreme Court, the BJP and its allies together have 37 members.
So, even if the NPP pulls out of the government, it will not reduce Singh’s ministry into a minority. But if others also walkout, the Congress, which has 20 MLAs, will return to power.