IMPHAL, March 16 � Three seniormost Congress leaders including Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee president Gaikhangam (65) of Nungba seat, were sworn in as Cabinet Ministers of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh-led ministry during a solemn function in the banquet hall of Raj Bhavan here today.
The other two leaders are Thoudam Debendra (69), of Jiribam and Phungzathang Tonshing (66), of Churachandpur Assembly seats.
Governor Gurbachan Jagat administered the oath of office and secrecy to the three Congressmen, in presence of Chief Minister Singh, newly elected MLAs, top officials of both civil and security forces, besides the families of the politicians.
Another senior Congress member Yumkham Erabot who was reported to be a front-runner for a Cabinet berth in the new ministry, also attended the swearing-in ceremony.
Responding to questions after the swearing-in ceremony, Ibobi said, �The next swearing-in ceremony will be held within the shortest possible time.� Reacting to another question over the reported differences among the senior Congress leaders for the post of a Deputy Chief Minister, Ibobi claimed, �There are no differences. We�re conducting it in a phasewise manner.�
The portfolios of the newly inducted ministers were also yet to be announced.
Though Ibobi declined to give dates for the next ministry expansion, he informed that a decision to elect a new Speaker of the Manipur Legislative Assembly which is scheduled to begin its session from March 19, will be taken today.
The swearing-in ceremony of the three ministers was effected barely four hours after the Chief Minister and the MPCC president rushed back to Imphal from New Delhi after finalising the ministerial berths in consultation with the AICC president.