Imphal, Oct. 8: Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh today appointed five Congress MLAs as parliamentary secretaries in an attempt to strengthen his hands and pre-empt any destabilisation campaign.
Ibobi Singh administered the oath of office and secrecy at a function attended by ministers, party MLAs and top civil officials at the secretariat.
Ibobi Singh administered the oath of office to Congress MLAs Keisham Meghachandra Singh, Mairenbam Prithviraj Singh, Victor Keishing, Vungzagin Valte and Amin Shah.
Barring Prithviraj and Meghachandra, the other three are newly elected members.
Victor is the son of veteran Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Rishang Keishing.
All the five MLAs are loyal to Ibobi Singh.
Ibobi Singh is yet to announce the departments to be taken care of by the newly appointed parliamentary secretaries.
The secretaries would be of the rank and status of a minister of state. The chief minister will specify their function and duties.
Sources in the Manipur PCC said the appointment of his loyal men as parliamentary secretaries was not only to strengthen his position but also to pre-empt any attempt to rock the boat.
The move is also to keep happy the supporters, who cannot be accommodated in the council of ministers.
“There is no threat to Ibobi Singh’s leadership as of now. But Ibobi Singh is always carrying the baggage of having the largest number of party MLAs. In Manipur, politics cannot be taken for granted. Ibobi Singh does not take chances,” a senior leader in the Manipur PCC told this correspondent.
This is the third consecutive term for Ibobi Singh and there could always be trouble given the sheer size of the ruling party. The Congress has 42 MLAs in the 60-member House.
The secretaries were appointed under the Manipur Parliamentary Secretary (appointment, salary and allowances and miscellaneous provisions) Act, 2012, which was passed by the state Assembly on July 13 this year.
Governor Gurbachan Jagat later gave his assent to the bill.
However, the run-up to the passing of the bill was not a smooth one.
The passing of the bill witnessed a walkout by Trinamul members.
The Ibobi Singh government introduced the bill after the governor had rejected an ordinance proposed by the cabinet on the same matter in May this year.