Imphal, May 23: Cracks appeared in the Manipur unit of the Trinamul Congress with party president Kim Gangte sacking I. Ibohalbi Singh as the leader of the party’s Legislature wing and replacing him with Maibam Kunjo Singh.
The development came after polling for Outer Manipur and Inner Manipur were over. Polling in Outer Manipur was held on April 9 and Inner Manipur on April 17.
Trouble was brewing within the Trinamul after Ibohalbi Singh attended the flag-hoisting programme of Janata Dal (U) candidate in the Outer Manipur, Lien Gangte, on March 28. The flag is usually hoisted to launch a candidate’s election campaign.
Ibohalbi Singh had not only attended the programme but also expressed support for Lien Gangte, though Trinamul president Kim Gangte was also contesting from Outer Manipur.
Trinamul sources said the party president waited for the end of the polling process in both seats to take up the issue of Ibohalbi Singh attending the JD (U) programme.
Gangte today said she had replaced Ibohalbi Singh with Kunjo Singh as the leader of the Legislature wing. An order in this regard was issued today, she said.
Gangte said she took the decision after five of the seven party MLAs expressed their no-confidence in Ibohalbi Singh. Five MLAs — Kunjo Singh, K. Sarat Singh, Kh. Joykishan Singh, Th. Biswajit Singh and O. Lukhoi Singh — in a joint representation requested Gangte to replace Ibohalbi Singh with Kunjo Singh.
With seven members, Trinamul is the largest Opposition party in the 60-member Manipur Assembly. Now Ibohalbi Singh has the support of only one MLA, Th. Shyamkumar Singh.
Ibohalbi Singh accepted the decision but said he would continue to work for the party.
“I welcome the decision of the party. I will continue to work for the party, though I am no longer leader of the Legislature wing,” Ibohalbi Singh said.
The five MLAs in their representation charged that Ibohalbi Singh had not co-ordinated with other members of the party even during the Assembly sessions. “He is working for his self-interest,” the MLAs said.
“Ibohalbi Singh was not fit to be the leader of the Legislature wing. He never cooperated with us. He is functioning independently,” a Trinamul MLA, who did not want to be quoted, told The Telegraph.
Trinamul opened its account in Manipur in February 2011 when its candidate, Konthoujam Sarat, won the Konthoujam Assembly seat byelection, which was necessitated by the death of the then Speaker Sapam Budhichandra of the Congress.
The party emerged as the largest Opposition party in the Assembly by winning seven seats in the 2012 Assembly election. It fielded Sarangthem Manaobi, a former IPS officer in the Inner Manipur, where polling was held on April 17.