The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ordinance to shield MLAs

Imphal, March 29: Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh has readied an ordinance as a shield for the seven Congress legislators who are facing the prospect of disqualification for holding “offices of profit”.

The state government reportedly prepared the ordinance in the wake of the disqualification of MP Jaya Bachchan and the resignation of Congress president Sonia Gandhi from Parliament. The document has since been submitted to the governor for his assent.

Confirming this, one of the seven legislators said the government had prepared the ordinance to amend the existing Manipur Legislature (Removal or Disqualification) Act, 1972, in an effort to prevent the MLAs from disqualification.

To pave the way for the ordinance, the cabinet had even recommended prorogation of the Assembly session. The budget session ended on March 17 and was accordingly prorogued on March 23, following the governor’s recommendation.

All seven legislators under the scanner have been holding posts of chairmen of government corporations, boards and authorities. These posts are equivalent to the rank of a cabinet minister.

On Monday, state BJP president H. Borobabu Singh submitted a memorandum to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, seeking the disqualification of the seven ruling party MLAs. The President is understood to have forwarded the petition to the Election Commission.

Reacting to the demand, legislator K. Ranjit Singh, who is also the chairman of the Planning and Development Authority, said if he did hold any office of profit, he would not hesitate to resign from the post. “But first, the post of the PDA chairman has to be identified as an office of profit or otherwise, which the government is doing,” Singh said.

“We expect that the governor will give his consent. This is a problem being faced by the whole country. It is the duty of the government to amend a legislation if required,” the chairman of a government board said.

The Congress legislators whose disqualification has been sought include H. Loken Singh, chairman of the Loktak Development Authority, K. Ranjit Singh, Y. Mani Singh, chairman of the Programme Implementation Committee, A. Aza, chairman of the Khadi and Village Industries Board, D.K. Korungthang, chairman of the Manipur Tribal Development Corporation, N. Biren Singh, chairman of the Manipur Pollution Control Board and Bijoy Koijam, chairman of the Manipur Electronic Corporation.

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