A Muslim in the new council of ministers of Manipur

By Dr. Syed Ahmed for TwoCircles.net

Imphal: Chief Minister of Manipur, O. Ibobi expanded his council of ministers by inducting eight more ministers on 28 April 2012, including a Muslim. The newly inducted Cabinet Ministers are M. Okendro, Govindas Konthoujam, Kh. Ratankumar, I. Hemochandra, Ngamthang Haokip, Francis Ngajokpa, Ak. Mirabai and Md. Abdul Nasir.

It took more than a month for the Chief Minister to expand his ministry since the swearing-in of three ministers on March 16, 2012. Interestingly the three veteran Congress leaders represented the three major communities – Naga, Kuki and Meitei – of the State. President of Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) Gaikhangam is a Naga, former Power Minister Phungzathang Tonsing is a Kuki and former Revenue Minister Th. Devendra is a Meitie.
The swearing-in ceremony was held at the banquet hall of the Raj Bhawan, the official residence-cum-office of the Governor of Manipur at Imphal. Governor Gurbachan Jagat administered the oath of office and secrecy.

The newly inducted 8 ministers. Md. Abdul Nasir in extreme right. Photo by e-pao.net

The ceremony was attended by Chief Minister, the legislators of Congress and Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP) and heads of various departments of the State.

Of the eight newly inducted ministers, three of them – Kh. Ratankumar, Ak. Mirabai and Md. Abdul Nasir have been given cabinet berths for the first time. Ak. Mirabai and Md. Abdul Nasir represent the reserved quotas of women and minorities respectively. I. Hemochandra, Th. Ratankumar and Ak. Mirabai Devi represent Imphal-west district. Md. Abdul Nasir, M. Okendro Singh and the Chief Minister O. Ibobi are from Thoubal district. Th. Devendra represents Imphal-East district, while Govindas Konthoujam represents Bishenpur district. Phunzathang Tonsing is from Churachandpur district while Gaikhangam is from Tamenglong district. Francis Ngajokpa and Ngamthang Haokip, both from Senapati district, represent Naga and Kuki communities respectively.

Md. Abdul Nasir has been given the charge of Agriculture and Fisheries. He was elected for the first time in the 10th Legislative Assembly election held on 28 February 2012 from the prestigious Lilong constituency. It is the only Muslim-dominated assembly constituency in the State. Md. Abdul Nasir (40) graduated from Lilong Haoreibi College in Usoipokpi, Lilong, and did his Masters from Manipur University. He was active in campus politics. He was elected as member of students’ union in college as well as in university. After the completion of his education he became a social worker. Later he joined Youth Congress.
In all, three Muslims were elected in the last election on Congress tickets. The other two are Md. Amin Shah from Khetrigao constituency and Md. Fajur Rahim from Wabagai constituency. Congress retained 42 out of the total 60 seats, thereby retaining power for the third consecutive term in Manipur.

The new Council of Ministers & their portfolios:

O. Ibobi Singh: Chief Minister Department of Personnel, Finance, Power, MAHUD, Minor Irrigation, Science & Technology, Tourism and other not allotted

Gaikhangam: Home, Horticulture & Soil Conservation and Tribal Affairs & Hills
Th. Devendra: Revenue, Law & Legislative Affairs, and Forests & Environment
Phungzathang Tonsing: Health & family Welfare, GAD and CADA
I. Hemochandra: PHED and Labour & Employment
Govindas Konthoujam: Commerce & Industries, Sericulture & Veterinary & Animal Husbandry
M. Okendro Singh: Education and CAF & PD
Ngamthang Houkip: IFCD and Printing and Stationary
Francis Ngayokpa: Rural Development & Panchayati Raj and Economics & Statistics
Dr. Kh. Ratan Kumar: Works and Transport
Kumari A.K. Mirabai: Social Welfare and Corporation
Md. Abdul Nasir: Agriculture and Fisheries

For the first time the portfolio of Minorities and Other Backward Classes (MOBC) has not been given to the Muslim minister. Chief Minister is in-charge of the Department. As a tradition the charge of the department was, till the last term, given to Muslim ministers. In the last term Md. Alaudin Khan was given the charge of the department. The department, created in 2002, looks after Manipur Wakf Board (constituted in 1988), Manipur Hajj Committee (constituted in 2003), Manipur State Minorities Commission (constituted in 2004) and Manipur State OBC Commission.

As the government is allowed to have a ministry size of just 12 including the Chief Minister it was a difficult task for the Chief Minister to select the ministers. O. Ibobi said it was a tough task to select the ministers owing to the election of large number of Congress MLAs in the election. The ministry expansion was made taking into account all aspects including community/ethnic and district-wise, however Ukhrul and Chandel districts have been left out. We are planning for a mid-term reshuffle to give opportunities to those Congress MLAs left out this time, he added. Chief Minister is also planning to create the post of Parliamentary Secretaries for offering to those deserving Congress legislators.
O. Ibobi said that the new government will give priorities to improvement of road connectivity, power-supply, law and order situation, and providing better provisions for drinking water, health and education.