Uncertain future of the ex-MLAs inducted as ministers

Written By: / Editorial / Wednesday, 30 September 2020 18:21

Amidst the increasing number of infections of Covid-19 in the state and the resulting heightened tension and uncertainty, the state government decided to reign the state government, and for a while, the collective attention of the people in the state were diverted to the frenzy of political activity that ensued, relegating the issue of the raging pandemic as less relevant. In the buildup to the recent cabinet reshuffle, there were much mud-slinging, horse trading and about-turns which made for a sordid picture of compromises and capitulations. Six Congress MLAs submitted their resignation hours after the BJP-led coalition government headed by Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren won a trust vote in early august, after former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi, who in June staked claim to form a government after nine MLAs had withdrawn support to Mr. Biren. Five of them returned to the BJP-fold later. Among the six is Okram Henry Singh (nephew of Okram Ibobi singh), who is the MLA of Wangkhei assembly constituency, who cited lack of trust in the party leadership under CLP leader Ibobi Singh as the reason for their resignation. MLA Oinam Lukhoi of Wangoi was also another of the MLA who submitted his resignation. Subsequently, their constituencies were declared vacant effective the very next day.
The two resigned MLAs have been recently inducted into the cabinet of Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh. Oinam Lukhoi was handed the charge of Agriculture, Veterinary and Animal Husbandry and Tourism portfolios, while Okram Henry Singh was assigned Social Welfare, Cooperation and Municipal Administration, Housing and Urban Development (MAHUD). Their strategies paid off, or so they would have surmised. However, according to Article 164(4) of The Constitution of India 1949, a Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister, which means that non-members should be elected into the legislative assembly within six months of appointment; otherwise such tenure ceases. This presupposes that said appointee is eligible for the post under Article 173 and is not hit by disqualifications under Article 191 on date of appointment. The present Biren-led coalition government still has about one and half years left to completion of term. The pertinent question, therefore is this: what happens after Henry and Lukhoi completes six months as cabinet ministers? No doubt, Biren and his think tank must have already been on the task, but it still will present an interesting outcome for the public.
On another issue which concerns politicians as public figures with cases pending in the law courts, the Election Commission (EC) said it had put in place a detailed timeline for publicity of criminal records by contesting candidates in walk up to elections. EC is of the opinion that the move would help voters in exercising their franchise in a more informed manner.
The move is significant because the new guidelines will now mean that the declaration by candidates with criminal antecedents will have to spread over three rounds of publicity beginning with soon after filing nomination and ending towards the end of campaign period. EC felt in absence of detailed timelines, candidates had the option of clubbing publicity of such records.
While many in the state decry the declining standard of politics chiefly resultant of the flocking of dubiously rich and unscrupulous contractors to political parties bringing with them generous donations and resources, for whatever it is worth, politics in Manipur still presents an interesting game.

About the Author

Jeet Akoijam

Jeet Akoijam

Jeet Akoijam, Resident Editor of Imphal Times hails from Singjamei Liwa Road. Has been with Imphal Times since its start. An International level Rugby player and  a regular Trekker and Nature Lover, loves spending time in lap of Mother Nature. Jeet is the father of two lovely kids. Jeet can be contacted at [email protected]

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