Manipur CM takes charge of Power, Works and Finance dept

Correspondent IMPHAL, Jun 13 | Publish Date: 6/13/2019 12:20:03 PM IST

Amidst the reports of discord among MLAs of the ruling BJP in Manipur, chief minister N Biren Singh on Thursday removed two key portfolios from Th Bishwajit, the cabinet minister holding most of the key portfolios.

The chief minister further took over the charge of finance department including taxation and excise from deputy chief minister Y Joykumar from NPP, one of the two major partners of the BJP-led coalition government in the state.

After vesting the charges of the three key portfolios upon himself, the chief minister left Imphal for New Delhi.  Highly reliable sources said his visit to Delhi tour is pertaining to revolt against him by some MLAs of his own party, the BJP. 

After removing public works and power departments, Th Bishwajit will be the minister in-charge of RD&PR, IPR, administrative reforms and commerce & industries.

The deputy chief minister will be the minister in-charge of science & technology, economics & statistics and civil aviation.

A statement of the chief minister’s secretariat stated that the chief minister’s move of taking over the charges of three key portfolios was due to the acute financial crunch being faced by the state government.

Reserved Bank of India (RBI) has banned withdrawal of funds from Manipur government’s bank accounts stating that the government account has overdrawn in excess of the arrangements agreed upon with RBI.

The overdraft of the state government, according to a highly reliable source, is  Rs 274.46 crore.

Huge amounts were withdrawn by public works and power departments during the period of March to May 2019 while Model Code Conduct for the Lok Sabha elections 2019 was in force.This was mentioned in an office memorandum regarding constitution of a committee to enquire into the matter issued by secretary to chief minister, Nidhi Kesarwani stated.

The matter will be examined by the committee with principal secretary V Vumlunmang as chairman along with two members. The committee will also examine large withdrawals by other departments, it added.

The office memorandum was issued after the chief minister took over the charges of finance, works and power departments on  himself after removing deputy chief minister Y Joykumar and cabinet minister Th Bishwajit.

The taking over of the of three key departments was after an urgent cabinet meeting was convened on Wednesday evening under the chair of the chief minister in the wake of the grim financial situation in the state.

The cabinet authorised the chief minister to take all necessary disciplinary actions to imbibe a culture of financial prudence and propriety in key government departments, the statement of the chief minister’s secretariat stated.

The statement added that a thorough investigation of the sanctioned procedures and financial management would be conducted for all key departments.

“The government is committed to bringing a new phase wherein financial discipline will be the hallmark of governance,” it added. 

The government also assured its employees that timely disbursement of salaries and benefits will not be impacted, the statement said.

Even as the government statement explained the chief minister taking over the charges of three key departments, political analysis assumed it as a strategy of N Biren to save his chief minister’s chair.

Currently, chief minister N Biren Singh is facing revolt from his own party’s MLAs allegedly led by minister Th Bishwajit from whom the chief minister has removed two key portfolios.

The power tussle and  attempt to replace N Biren Singh as the chief minister of the state was gathering more steam.

A local media reported that 17 MLAs were lobbying with national leaders of BJP through convenor of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) Himanta Biswa Sarma who is also the finance minister of Assam.

The 17 MLAs reportedly camping in New Delhi currently had also reportedly submitted a petition on Tuesday to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah who has become the Union home minister demanding that Biren be replaced as the chief minister.

Even though MLAs were with Biswajit who has registered his revolt against the chief minister by refraining from attending cabinet meetings and other state events hosted by the chief minister, they did not mention any particular MLA to replace Biren, reports said.

Chief minister N Biren has left Imphal for New Delhi on Thursday. During his trip to the national capital, the chief minister will meet and discuss the issue of discord among the party MLAs in the state with the national leaders.

Meanwhile, after national leaders has summoned Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly Y Khemchand has also dashed to New Delhi today, reports said. It is pertinent to mention here that two national leaders of BJP including its general secretary (northeast in-charge) Ram Madhav had visited the state to resolve the internal crisis of the party.

They had met chief minister and some ministers including rebel leader Th Bishwajit together as well as separately and went back to Delhi to take up for discussion the matter with national party leaders.

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