For the second consecutive time, N Biren Singh took oath as the chief minister of Manipur on March 21, a day after he was unanimously elected leader of the BJP’s legislature party.
Five MLAs also took oath as ministers in the swearing-in, held at the governor’s house in Imphal. Four of the ministers are from the BJP and one from the Naga People’s Front (NPF).
The 1961-born and five-time MLA, Biren Singh in his first interaction with the media after the swearing-in, said he would strive to provide a corruption-free, drugs-free Manipur.
“I will work day and night to abolish corruption from the state. Secondly, I will try to wipe out any drug-related matters from the state. Thirdly, I will try to bring all the state-based insurgencies into the negotiation table,” said Biren Singh.
Those making it to the 12-member council of ministers included BJP’s Thongam Biswajit Singh, Yumnam Khemchand, Govindas Konthoujam Singh and Nemcha Kipgen and NPF’s Awangbow Newmai.
Newmai was a minister in the previous government led by Biren Singh, who had said on March 10 that the NPF, which had contested the polls on its own, would be part of the government despite the ruling party winning a majority (32) on its own in a House of 60.
The NPF (5), like the Janata Dal (6), the Kuki People’s Alliance (2) and two Independents, has extended “unconditional” support to the BJP.
Keeping the NPF in the government would further bridge the hill-valley divide, BJP insiders felt.
Govindas, a seven-time MLA, is a former Manipur PCC president and had joined the BJP in August last year, dealing a serious blow to the principal Opposition party which could win only five seats in the recently-concluded assembly polls. Govindas was also a minister in the erstwhile Congress government.
Khemchand is the new face in the cabinet while Kipgen the only woman in the cabinet till now. Khemchand was the speaker in the last term.
The swearing-in was attended by national president JP Nadda and the chief ministers of Assam and Tripura, state unit president A Sharda Devi and other senior leaders.
Soon after the swearing-in, Singh held a meeting with senior leaders at the BJP headquarters in Imphal, he said.
Manipur governor La Ganesan administered the oath of office and secrecy to Singh and the ministers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among those who congratulated Singh.