In a bid to avoid a repeat of the Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand-like situation, the Congress took the first step on Tuesday to save its government in Manipur by appointing former minister TN Haokip as the state chief.
Haokip, a preferred choice of about 25 dissident legislators, replaces Gaikhangam as the state party chief. Gaikhangam is also the deputy chief minister.
The rebels had raised a banner of revolt against chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and threatened to topple the Congress government if their demands for removal of Gaikhangam under the ‘one-man-one-post’ formula and some of the ministers were not met.
Congress sources said a cabinet reshuffle is likely soon. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi met the chief minister and the state chief in Delhi last week and told them to address the “genuine concerns” of the rebels.
The Congress president also assured the rebels that their demands for a cabinet reshuffle and the leadership change would be considered and that they should not “hurt” the party ahead of next year’s assembly polls. The rebels had threatened to cross over to the BJP.
In the 60-member assembly, the Congress has 42 seats. However, the Congress tally went up to 47 after five legislators from the Manipur State Congress Party joined it in April 2014.
The revolt in the Congress followed the government’s decision to suspend five Manipur police personnel after the Nagaland-based Naga Students’ Federation imposed an indefinite ban on the entry of vehicles belonging to a particular community.
The ban followed an incident on February 14 in which some members of the student body were assaulted by Manipur police. The student body had demanded suspension of the personnel and the state government yielded to its demand.