The Congress in Manipur is preparing to make a grand comeback under former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh as nine opposition MLAs, including three BJP legislators resigned to join the state Congress Wednesday evening. Sources said the party leaders will stake claim to form the government and meet Manipur governor on June 18 to insist they have the numbers.
Four legislators from the National People’s Party (NPP) including three ministers - Health and Family Welfare Minister L Jayantakumar Singh, deputy chief minister Yumnam Joykumar Singh, YAS minister Letpao Haokip and tribal affairs minister N Kayisii withdrew support to the BJP-led government. The lone independent MLA from Jiribam and Trinamool Congress MLA have also expressed support to the Congress.
The divisions in BJP were prominently on display since October last year when Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Public works minister Th Biswajit Singh and team landed in New Delhi separately to meet senior party leaders to sort out differences.
For the Congress, the rivalries within the BJP had signalled good things to come, a roadmap for which was carefully worked out when the rest of the state was in coronavirus lockdown.
“The beginning of downfall of BJP rule in India happens today in Imphal, Manipur. Very soon, there will be people's true government which is the new Congress-led coalition government in Manipur,” said Ningombam Bupenda Meitei, Manipur Congress Spokesperson.
“I am confident that three-time Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh will become the new CM of Manipur. Today marks the dusk of Modi regime in India for 2024. Today is the new beginning of India. Today is the new sunrise for Manipur,” Meitei added.
Former deputy chief minister Y Joykumar Singh officially announced his resignation citing disrespectful treatment to legislators, and in view of the assembly elections in 2022.
“Everyone is aware of the political development in the last few months in Manipur - with respect to this BJP-led government and the kind of treatment we received, including myself. We had deliberated in detail about what will be the best course of action for the party, keeping in mind the Assembly election to be held in early 2022. Therefore, today we decided to withdraw our support to the BJP-led government,” said Singh.
Meanwhile, developments are expected to continue throughout the day with the Congress still working on its strategies that seem to have paid off. A Congress leader told News18 that the BJP was out of touch with the concerns of the people in Manipur.
The major challenge for the Congress would be to win back the trust lost in 2017 Assembly elections that had yielded a hung verdict. The Congress had emerged as the single largest party with 28 MLAs in the 60-member house, and the BJP had 21 MLAs. The NPP and the Naga Peoples Front (NPF) secured four seats each, and the Lokjanshakti Party, Trinamool Congress and an Independent candidate had won one seat each. It was BJP strategist and NEDA Chairman Himanta Biswa Sarma who managed to win support of all non-Congress MLAs, helping the party form a coalition government. Governor Najma Heptulla had then invited BJP to stake claim to form the next government in Manipur.
The Congress is confident of numbers stacking on their side for a smooth sail during the trust vote - 29 Congress, 22 BJP and others, and the Assembly Speaker would add up to 52 MLAs who can vote. The numbers are expected to change for both sides.
The seven Congress MLAs, however, who defected to the BJP will not be eligible to vote as they have been restrained by the High Court of Manipur from entering the Assembly till Speaker Yumnam Khemchand Singh finally disposes of the pending anti-defection cases against them.