The question of who will be included Ministry expansion
Obvious that the BJP is well placed here at Imphal having bagged 32 seats in the just held Assembly elections. The leadership issue has been settled with N Biren Singh back as the Chief Minister for the second consecutive term with four of the old faithfuls and heavyweights of the saffron party having been inducted in the Council of Ministers. The question now is when the Ministry will be expanded to bring the strength of the Council of Ministers to 12. Chief Minister N Biren must surely be facing the problem of too many, with the NPF reportedly eyeing a second spot and the JD (U) and the NPP having extended their support to the BJP led Government. This will perhaps be the biggest challenge before the Chief Minister at the moment. With the next Lok Sabha election scheduled for 2024, the BJP here cannot afford to rub any of the other political parties the wrong way and how well the Chief Minister walks the tightrope can go to a certain extent on how the BJP is able to keep its flock together ahead of the next Parliamentary election. It certainly will need the JD (U) in Bihar and the NPP in Meghalaya IN the next Lok Sabha polls and the best way to keep the Congress out of any reckoning is to tie up with its partners and this is also in line with the purpose of setting up the North East Democratic Alliance. To the BJP the prime objective is to keep out the Congress under any circumstances and surely this is one factor that can weigh in when the next Ministry expansion is effected. What happens at Imphal can certainly have an impact on what happens at Meghalaya and to a certain extent at Bihar too. This calls for sharp political acumen and the ability to look to the future and herein lies the test for the Chief Minister. The NPF has been accommodated in the Council of Ministers, in line with the pre-poll announcement of the Chief Minister that the BJP will go along with the said party, but will the NPF be satisfied with just one of them being made a Minister ? This is a question that can arise amid the hectic lobbying that must be underway ahead of the next expansion.
Winning 32 seats is surely a very credible performance and this number was achieved despite the many political pundits and ‘experts’ giving the BJP a number which fell short of the 30 seats mark. However, as is clear from the conduct of the BJP across the country, it has been looking beyond the question of just forming the Government and this is something which can weigh heavily when the Ministry is expanded. It also remains that the BJP think tank must be looking beyond the 2022 Assembly election and already it must be thinking of the position of the saffron party five or even ten years down the line here. This is where it would be interesting to see where the BJP Government stands on the question of making Hindi compulsory for students upto Class X in the North East region. Or can one expect the BJP led Government at Imphal to speak out its mind. Or will it prefer to maintain silence on the sensitive subject ? Tough to say how things will unfold in the coming days, but it is anybody’s guess how well the announcement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah would have gone down with the people of Manipur. Promoting Hindi is one thing but making it a compulsion is an entirely different ball game and this is something which must have been clear to the State BJP leadership. One wonders how the different CSOs of Manipur and the North East would have taken the announcement of the Union Home Minister. The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) has already spoken out its mind but the question of greater importance is whether such an announcement can impact on the poll prospects of the saffron party or not in the long run.