Manipur crisis is a family matter, says Biren Singh

Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh on Wednesday said the political crisis in the State was a “family matter” that would be sorted out soon. He said the BJP-led government faced no threat.

Also read: Amit Shah steps in to resolve Manipur crisis, for now

The party’s national secretary, Ram Madhav, too exuded confidence that the government would complete its term in March 2022, when the next Assembly election is due.

The Biren Singh government was reduced to a minority one when four MLAs of the National People’s Party (NPP) and two others withdrew support on June 17. Three BJP lawmakers resigned, too, citing differences with the Chief Minister.

While the four NPP lawmakers were flown to Delhi through Guwahati on Tuesday for talks with the BJP’s central leadership, Mr. Madhav reached Manipur capital Imphal on Wednesday reportedly for a damage-control exercise. He met the Chief Minister, senior Ministers and party leaders.

But Mr Madhav said a different reason brought him to Imphal. “I have come to felicitate Leishemba Sanajaoba, who won the election for the lone Rajya Sabha seat by defeating his Congress rival,” he added.

He played down the speculation that the BJP-led government was shaky because of the resignation and disqualification of MLAs. “We shall complete the full five-year term,” he said.

The four NPP lawmakers had reportedly told their national president and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma and Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma that they would rejoin the coalition government if Mr. Biren was replaced.

The Chief Minister, however, seemed unperturbed. “Whatever is happening in Manipur is a family problem, and the party leaders will find an amicable solution,” Mr. Biren Singh said, adding that it was not unusual for two national parties like the BJP and the NPP to sort out issues in Delhi.

CBI grilling

Meanwhile, a CBI team interrogated Congress veteran and former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh at his Imphal residence in connection with an alleged ₹332-crore scam in the Manipur Development Society (MDS).

Mr. Ibobi Singh, who had staked a claim to form an alternative coalition government headed by the Congress, asserted his innocence. “I extended full cooperation to the sleuths, as the guilty ones should be punished. Though I was the Chief Minister for 15 years [until 2017], I was the chairman of the MDS for a year. I had never signed any documents or cheques relating to the financial transactions of the MDS,” he told journalists.

Besides Mr. Ibobi Singh, the CBI registered corruption cases against former Chief Secretaries D. Poonia, P.C. Lawkunga and O. Nabakishore and Yambem Ningthem, the suspended project director of the MDS.

Officials said the other accused persons might be interrogated soon.

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