With both BJP and Congress staking claim to form the next government in Manipur, all eyes are now on the Raj Bhavan here as to who would be invited first.
The saffron party had met Governor Dr Najma Heptulla on Sunday night and presented a list of 32 MLAs. Few hours later, incumbent Congress chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh also went to Raj Bhavan and staked claim.
This is the toughest task the 76-year-old Governor faces since assuming office in August last year.
A former Congress leader who was the longest serving Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha, Dr Heptulla had joined BJP and was minister for minority affairs in the Modi government before resigning last year.
- Congress 28
- BJP 21
- NPP 4
- NPF 4
- LJP 1
- AITC 1
- Independent 1
“Though Congress is the largest party, it doesn’t have the numbers. On the other hand, the BJP has the support of smaller parties and has 32 MLAs. In this scenario, the Governor could invite BJP first,” said Prof Bimala Khetri, a political commentator and former Dean of School of Social Sciences.
Since Congress is the single largest party with 28 MLAs, Ibobi says they should be invited first to form the government and majority should be decided by a floor test in the House.
“I am hoping that the Governor will do justice,” the 69-year-old, who has been at the helm in Manipur since 2002, told journalists.
The BJP, which came second with 21 seats, has the written support of four MLAs each from Naga People’s Front and National People’s Party and also the lone Lok Janshakti Party legislator.
Congress MLA from Andro, T Shyamkumar, and the only All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) legislator T Robindro Singh have also extended support to the BJP, taking their tally to 32, one more than the required 31 to form the government in the 60-member assembly.
Both legislators had gone to the Raj Bhavan with BJP leaders and allies on Sunday night. There are speculations that the lone Independent MLA Ahsab Uddin may also join the BJP camp.
The Congress is yet to cobble up support and despite denials of any defections, there are intense speculations that over a dozen party MLAs may rebel and switch sides.