After days of suspense, the BJP finally formed its first government in Manipur on Wednesday with N Biren Singh as the new Chief Minister.
In the biggest of all surprises at the swearing-in ceremony, former Congress MLA from Andro seat Shyam Kumar, who was elected on a Congress ticket but had switched sides to join the BJP recently, was inducted as a minister into the Biren Singh government. Congress has issued a showcause notice to Shyam Kumar.
Governor Najma Heptulla administered the oath of office to nine cabinet ministers, including Singh in the presence of central BJP leaders like Ram Madhav, Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar. Interestingly, even after a bitter tussle for power, former Congress Chief Minister Ibobi Singh also attended the event to extend his wishes to the new government. BJP chief Amit Shah, along with other central leaders who were scheduled to attend the event, could not make it to Imphal as the aircraft they were supposed to travel by developed technical snag.
While all four MLAs from BJP's alliance partner National People's Party (NPP), one from Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and one from the Naga Peoples Party (NPF) were inducted into the newly-formed government, the high point of the ceremony was the induction of the lone defecting Congress MLA Shyam Kumar.
SHYAM KUMAR's NAME GREETED BY LOUD CHEERS
As soon as Shyam Kumar's name was announced, there was a loud cheer in the Raj Bhawan hall room occupied by BJP leaders and supporters.
When asked how a Congress MLA made his way into the BJP cabinet, a visibly embarrassed Ibobi Singh said, "Please ask him (that question)."
On his part, the defecting MLA fumbled for answers when asked if his induction was legal.
"I'm ready to face the consequences," he said.
He further added that the people in Manipur had lost faith in the Congress and wanted a change of guard.
ANYTHING POSSIBLE IN POLITICS: CONG
Meanwhile, the Congress party has already issued him a show-cause notice for his action. Speaking to India Today, Manipur Pradesh Congress chief TN Haokip said, "It is quite strange but as they say, anything is possible in politics. We have already issued a show-cause notice to him."
Haokip also rubbished speculation that many more Congress MLAs were waiting to cross over to the BJP. "These are all political rhetoric. There won't be any further erosion from our party. All our MLAs are intact", he said.
Another controversial addition to the BJP council of ministers was NPP MLA Y Joykumar, former DG of Manipur police, considered close to former Chief Minister Ibobi Singh. He has been made the deputy chief minister. Moreover, it's also alleged that there was a spurt in fake encounters during Joykumar's tenure as the state police chief.