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Empty chairs greet Gaikhangam

- Manipur deputy CM regrets thin attendance on Statehood Day

Gaikhangam addresses the function on Thursday. Telegraph picture

Imphal, Jan. 21: Empty chairs in the auditorium of the Manipur State Film Development Society, the venue of Manipur's Statehood Day function today which was attended by chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, have left deputy chief minister Gaikhangam fuming.

Manipur observed its 44th Statehood Day today with a state function at the society's auditorium. The state government declares a general holiday on the day every year to allow all government employees to attend the programme.

Many of the seats at the 800-plus seat capacity auditorium here were empty when the programme began. Only a few ministers, MLAs, top civil and police officers were present.

Ibobi Singh was the chief guest while Gaikhangam, who is also the home minister and president of Manipur PCC, was presiding over the function. Health minister T. Phungzathang attended the programme as the guest of honour.

After the chief minister addressed the function, Gaikhangam rose, paid respects to those on the dais and in the audience and surveyed the attendance. Obviously unsatisfied with the empty seats, Gaikhangam began his speech by saying, "It is very unfortunate that many of the government employees had not turned up to attend the celebration of Manipur's statehood."

Gaikhangam said today was a day when each and everyone in the state should celebrate as Manipur's progress gained momentum after attaining statehood. "It is a shame that many government officials decided not to attend the programme. It is unfortunate that there are ministers, MLAs and officials who could not feel happy on this day," he added.

The deputy chief minister advised chief secretary O. Nabakishore Singh to take action against senior officials who failed to attend the programme.

Earlier, Ibobi Singh sought cooperation of all stakeholders in his government's efforts to accelerate the pace of development in all sectors.

"Because of inadequate plan funds and resource constraints, in addition to frequent strikes and blockades, the government is handicapped in its efforts to bring all-round development. All stakeholders, including ministers, MLAs, officials and citizens' organisations should come and work together for the interest of the state," Ibobi Singh said.

He said his government was focusing on communication, health, power and education as the top priorities. The chief minister also appealed to all sections of people to take the path of negotiation and dialogue to get their issues and grievances addressed. "The problems of Manipur should be resolved by all of us. No outsider will come and solve the problems," he said.


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