Deepak Nagpal/ Zeenews Bureau
Imphal/New Delhi: Is Congress’ Okram Ibobi Singh no more the ‘favourite’ to become the chief minister of Manipur in case the party comes back to power? This is the question that the local media in Imphal has been speculating.
In 2002 and 2007, O Ibobi Singh had single-handedly brought the Congress to power. While this time around too, the party is likely to retain majority in the Manipur Assembly, there are murmurs that Ibobi Singh might not return as the CM.
As per reports, incumbent Commerce and Industry Minister Yumkham Erabot Singh has emerged as a strong contender to incumbent CM Ibobi Singh. Both of them have been lobbying hard in New Delhi to stake their claim to the post of Congress Legislature Party leader in Manipur.
In fact, Y Erabot is reported to have paid a visit to New Delhi after being called by the AICC. Some reports even say Sonia Gandhi had asked for Y Erabot’s resume.
There is another angle to the leadership battle that is fast emerging in Manipur Congress. G Gainkhangam, the current president of the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee, is another contender to the post, say party sources in the state.
Is it really media speculation or is the Congress high command in New Delhi really thinking about a leadership change? Local reports say Ibobi Singh may have to go as part of the measure to revamp the face of the government, especially in the wake of the anti-corruption wave sweeping the country.
The high command is also believed to be upset with Ibobi Singh’s handling of the 121-day long state blockade last year, during the course of which the CM had even planned to go on a tour to Europe but later cancelled it due to widespread criticism.
And these factors make the case of Y Erabot strong. He is a man who has been known to be a no-nonsense politician with a clean image.
Another factor which will decide who becomes the CM, is the number of MLAs supporting each candidates. And in case no party gets a clear majority and a coalition government has to be formed, the candidate who is accepted by coalition partners will surely have an upper hand.
In the end, the media can only speculate and it’s the time that will tell who emerges as the favourite of the Congress leadership in New Delhi and becomes the CM.