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Pro-reshuffle camp fidgety

Imphal, July 6: The pro-reshuffle Congress MLAs of Manipur are gearing up to mount pressure on chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh to replace 10 ministers of the 12-member council of ministers.

The MLAs, numbering 27 out of a total strength of 47 in a House of 60 members, have decided to meet Ibobi Singh tomorrow again to know his stand on their demand for reshuffle.

The Congress initially elected 42 members. The number went up to 47 after five MLAs of Manipur State Congress Party, a regional party, joined the Congress just before the Lok Sabha elections.

“We will be meeting the chief minister tomorrow again to get a clear picture of his position on our demand for replacement of 10 ministers barring the chief minister and deputy chief minister Gaikhangam,” a Congress MLA said.

As some of the MLAs are at present out of station, at least 20 MLAs would meet Ibobi Singh tomorrow, he said. The reshuffle camp wants it to take place immediately after the Assembly session which will begin on July 11.

Earlier on June 30, the MLAs met Ibobi Singh with their demand. On that day more than 20 MLAs were paraded before the chief minister. Ibobi Singh assured them that he would convey their sentiment to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The chief minister left Imphal for Delhi the next day to attend a party meeting.

Before the June 30 meeting, the MLAs had submitted a representation to the chief minister demanding a reshuffle. Ibobi Singh is believed to have raised the political development back home before the party high command.

He, however, has “remained silent” since his return to Imphal two days back.

“We do not know what the response of the AICC leaders is. The chief minister is not saying anything after his return from Delhi. Therefore, we are meeting him tomorrow again. We will make it very clear that we will not withdraw our demand for a reshuffle,” the MLA said.

They argue that other MLAs should be given a chance to become ministers.

They claimed that Ibobi Singh had promised them a reshuffle after two-and-a-half years of the term at the time of ministry formation in March 2012. The MLAs have raised the demand after getting no hint of reshuffle even after two-and-a-half years.

The MLAs are regularly meeting at the official quarters of party MLA Y. Surchandra Singh here. They gathered there last night to chalk out strategies.

They have already made it very clear that they will stay away from the upcoming Assembly session if they do not get an assurance on reshuffle from Ibobi Singh.