The BJP on Sunday edged past the Congress in the race to form the next government in Manipur, despite coming second in the recently held elections.
After day-long parleys, the party managed to secure support from the National People’s Party (NPP) – which has four MLAs – to take their tally to 30 seats. Now, they need just one more seat to reach the magic figure of 31.
“We have decided to extend support to the BJP-led government. The NPP and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will be part of the government while the Naga People’s Front (LPF) will extend outside support,” Conrad Sangma, NPP leader and Lok Sabha MP, told HT.
The saffron party, which secured 21 seats — seven less than the Congress — already has the support of the NPF and the LJP. Both the regional parties are constituents of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance — a regional front of anti-Congress parties. Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP is part of the NDA government at the Centre.
“We have the support of more MLAs, and have already reached the 31 figure – but that will be disclosed later. We have sought an appointment with the governor on Sunday evening to stake claim to forming the next government,” Sangma said.
It is still uncertain if lone independent MLA Ahsab Uddin from Jiribam and All India Trinamool Congress legislator T Robindro Singh will be part of the BJP-led coalition.
The Manipur assembly has 60 members. The BJP, which had no seats in the previous assembly, won 21 in this election while the Congress’ count came down from 42 in 2012 to 28.
High drama had played out at the Imphal airport on Sunday afternoon, when Uddin was allegedly detained by CISF personnel while returning from the state capital.
“On behest of BJP, independent candidate Ashab Uddin has been detained forcibly by CISF and flown to unknown destination,” tweeted Congress general secretary CP Joshi soon after the incident.
Confusion prevailed in the hours that followed, and Uddin could not be contacted despite several attempts. Senior BJP leaders didn’t react to the allegation either.
Meanwhile, the Congress also seemed to be trying to gather support from “like-minded parties” to retain power. Party members elected incumbent chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh as the Congress legislature party leader, and was expected to meet governor Najma Heptullah on Monday to stake claim to form the government in the state.