Next expansion only after budget session

The Congress Ministry in Manipur was expanded on Friday with the induction of Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Gaikhangam, Thoudam Devendra and Phuzathang Tonsing as Cabinet Ministers.

Interestingly, it was these three who had demanded the post of Deputy Chief Minister. After losing the race for leadership, Mr. Gaikhangam sought the No. 2 slot, besides important portfolios. Mr. Tonsing had claimed that as he was the senior politician from among Kuki tribals, he should be made Deputy Chief Minister. He even submitted a memorandum to the Congress high command saying his candidature was supported by 24 MLAs, mostly first-timers.

With the issue assuming serious proportions, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who alone was sworn in on Wednesday, rushed to New Delhi within an hour for holding talks with the high command. As all the three leaders stuck to their demand, it was finally decided that all of them be made Cabinet Ministers and there would be no post of Deputy Chief Minister.

Mr. Devendra and Mr. Tonsing were already Cabinet Ministers in the previous Ibobi Singh-led government.

On Friday Governor Gurubachand Jagat administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr. Gaikhangam, Mr. Tonsing and Mr. Devendra. After the ceremony, Mr. Ibobi Singh told journalists that the second and final expansion of his ministry would take place only after the budget session, to be held on Monday and Tuesday.