The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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All’s well in Ibobi ‘family’

Imphal/New Delhi, June 27: The Congress was back to being a “happy family” in Manipur today with PCC chief Gaikhangam going quiet after weeks of acrimony and Okram Ibobi Singh sticking to the script approved by the high command for the first expansion of his ministry.

Ibobi Singh told the media after Governor S.S. Sidhu administered the oath of office to the six inductees — Y. Erabot Singh, N. Loken Singh, L. Jayentakumar Singh, K. Ranjit Singh, N. Biren Singh and D.D. Thaisi — that “there is no problem now”.

Although his bugbear, PCC chief Gaikhangam, was not around to give his side of the story, sources in New Delhi confirmed that the high command forced them to patch up.

“It was a family problem, which all big parties tend to face from time to time,” Ibobi Singh said in Imphal.

Thaisi, a Naga legislator from Karong in Senapati district, is the only new face among the six who were added to the ministry.

The high command neither gave in to Gaikhangam’s demand for a deputy chief minister nor entertained suggestions to include any of the three Rashtriya Janata Dal legislators in the 12-member ministry.

Gaikhangam reportedly settled for the induction of one of his trusted lieutenants, Erabot Singh.

The PCC chief, who stepped down as health minister earlier this month, had been lobbying with the Congress high command for the deputy chief minister’s post.

He and Ibobi Singh called on Sonia Gandhi and the party’s Northeast in-charge, Oscar Fernandez, and went back satisfied with what they had to say.

“The chief minister and the PCC president have settled their differences after discussions with the party leadership,” said a senior AICC member.

Fernandez and AICC secretaries Ved Prakash (for Meghalaya), Chandan Bagchi (Assam) and Sanjay Bapna (for Manipur) have had to work overtime in the region to keep the party together.

D.D. Lapang was reinstated as chief minister of Meghalaya after a spat with J.D.Rymbai earlier this year.

In Arunachal Pradesh, Gegong Apang recently made way for Dorjee Khandu.

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