The Hindu – BJP’s Biren Singh stakes claim to form government in Manipur

Shiv Sahay Singh

Imphal, 13 March 2017. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday put forward the name of N Biren Singh as the next Chief Minister of Manipur. The decision was taken at a meeting of BJP legislators in the presence of two Central ministers, Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar, at a hotel in Imphal.

The journalist-turned-politician and MLA from the Heingang constituency is considered one of the most prominent faces of the BJP in Manipur. He had left the Congress in October 2016 and joined the BJP.

Immediately after being elected as the leader of the BJP legislature party, Mr. Biren Singh met Governor Najma Heptulla, staking his claim to form the first BJP government in Manipur.

“This is a huge challenge. I left Congress because of misgovernance. I assure the people that our team will bring good governance to the people of Manipur,” the BJP leader said.

Within hours of the developments at the BJP camp, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh visited Raj Bhavan and tendered his resignation.

Manipur, which gave a fractured mandate in the recent Assembly poll, has witnessed high political drama in the past two days. While the Congress has emerged as the single largest party with 28 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly, three short of majority, the BJP got 21 seats.

The BJP has the support of 4 MLAs each from the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the National People’s Party (NPP) and one from the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).

However the disappearance of the lone independent MLA Ashad Uddin and the switching of sides by Congress MLA T Shyamkumar has tilted the balance in favour of the BJP.

The only Trinamool Congress MLA T Robindro has also offered to support the BJP. After the BJP leadership met the Governor, along with representatives of other parties, Mr Ibobi Singh met the Governor late on Sunday night and staked claim to form the government.

On Monday also, the suspense continued with reports that Mr Ibobi Singh was not resigning. Earlier Ms Heptulla said: “I told the CM that first you resign then only I can start the process of government formation.” Mr Ibobi Singh even held a press conference stating that he had ample time and would resign in a day or two.

According to senior officials in the Manipur administration, the Election Commission of India will issue a notification for constitution of a fresh Assembly in all five States on Tuesday, following which the Governor can summon any party to form the government even if Mr Ibobi Singh refuses to resign.

With both parties now staking claim to form the government all eyes are now on who the Governor will call for proving majority on the floor of the House. The BJP claims that it has the numbers to form the government.

The Congress, however, insists that being the single largest party it should be allowed to go for a floor test.

“The Governor has to decide. As per the decision of the Supreme Court who has the numbers in the House cannot be decided by the Governor. It has to decided on the floor of the House,” senior Congress leader C P Joshi, who is in Imphal, said.


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