Congress to move no-confidence motion against BJP-led govt in Manipur
The Congress claimed it had the numbers to form the government under Okram Ibobi Singh.Updated: Jun 18, 2020 19:24 IST
The Congress on Thursday decided to move a no-confidence motion against the Biren Singh-led government in Manipur, a day after nine MLAs, including three from the BJP, withdrew support from the government. The party met Governor Najma Heptullah this afternoon, requesting a special session of the assembly to move the motion.
“We have come here to submit an application to the Governor, requesting for a special session of the assembly to adopt a resolution on the no-confidence motion against the government led by N Biren Singh,” senior Congress Chaltonlien Amo told journalists before entering the Raj Bhawan.
The Congress claimed it had the numbers to form the government under Okram Ibobi Singh.
“We want the Governor to call the newly formed Secular Progressive Front (SPF) under Okram Ibobi Singh, leader of the single largest party. The Congress with the SPF will form the government. The present government no longer commands a majority” he added.
Meanwhile, NPP president and Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma said that the developments in Manipur are because of problems with the leadership of N Biren Singh and it would have no impact on the government in Meghalaya, which has support of two BJP MLAs.
“The immediate trigger for it was the resignation of the three BJP MLAs in Manipur. There were also issues with interference in the working of our party’s minister’s in that state. The events there will not affect the government in Meghalaya,” Sangma told DD News in Shillong.
The move comes after three BJP MLAs, all four National People’s Party (NPP) MLAs, one Trinamool Congress (TMC) legislator and an Independent MLA withdrew support to the three-year-old coalition government on Wednesday.
In his letter to the Governor, former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh informed that a no-confidence motion against the BJP-led coalition has been moved before assembly Speaker Y Khemchand Singh requesting to hold a special session to “debate, consider and pass a resolution in the matter at the earliest”.
“It is requested that Hon’ble Madam may exercise powers under Article 174 of the constitution to summon a special session of Manipur legislative assembly at the shortest possible time to vote on the motion of no confidence against the present minority council of ministers to protect democracy in the state,” the letter to the Governor read.
Alternatively, the letter sought that “since the present ministry is in minority, it may be dismissed outright” and Okram Ibobi Singh, leader of SPF, who commands the majority invited to form the government.
The letter to the Governor included letters of support from all members of SPF: 20 from Congress, four from NPP, one TMC MLA and one Independent MLA.
The NPP, which is heading the government in Meghalaya with the support of BJP, has decided to join hands with Congress and form the next government.
The three BJP MLAs, who resigned on Wednesday, have officially joined Congress, but their votes won’t get counted in the assembly as they would come under purview of anti-defection law.
“We will go together in formation of the next government led by Congress. The government’s handling of the Covid-19 situation and interference in ministries handled by our party’s ministers are reasons why we decided to withdraw support to the government,” NPP leader and former deputy chief minister Y Joykumar Singh said.
The immediate trigger
In April this year, chief minister N Biren Singh had divested Joykumar of all his portfolios after the latter termed the former’s assurances of food security during the Covid-19-induced lockdown as “hogwash”.
The latest developments come after Manipur High Court on June 9 restrained seven Congress MLAs, who switched sides to the ruling BJP, from entering the assembly till Speaker Yumnam Khemchand Singh disposes of the pending anti-defection cases against them.
The ruling had cast doubts on these MLAs from voting for the lone Rajya Sabha seat from the state, elections for which are scheduled on June 19.
In March this year, the Supreme Court had ordered removal of TH Shyamkumar as a minister. Shyamkumar had won on a Congress ticket but switched sides immediately after results were announced and became a minister in the BJP-led government. Following the SC move, he resigned as an MLA.
It started three years ago
The first BJP government in Manipur had come to power in March 2017. The party had won 21 of the 60 seats in the state while Congress had won 28 seats.
But BJP formed a government with the support of 4 MLAs each from NPP and Naga People’s Front (NPF), one legislator each from TMC and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and an Independent MLA. Like Shyamkumar, later 7 other Congress MLAs had switched sides to the BJP.
How the numbers add up
With three BJP MLAs resigning, the BJP is now reduced to 18 MLAs. It still has support of 4 NPF MLAs and the lone LJP legislator taking the coalition’s tally to a total of 23 members from the 39 MLAs it had earlier.
On the other hand, Congress had 20 MLAs of its own (8 disqualified for switching sides) plus 4 from NPP and one TMC and one Independent taking their total to 26 MLAs.
With seven turncoat Congress MLAs not allowed to enter the assembly and the three BJP MLAs not getting a chance to vote under purview of the anti-defection law, the effective strength of the assembly is now reduced to 49 members.
All eyes are now on the Speaker’s Tribunal which will decide the fate of the seven Congress MLAs debarred from entering the assembly. In the event of the disqualification cases against the seven Congress MLAs are overruled, it will favour the BJP and the Congress, if it’s upheld.
“Though three of our MLAs have left, there’s still no threat to the government. We have a strategy in place and are working on it,” said BJP MLA and government spokesperson S Rajen.
“We are hopeful that the assembly Speaker gives a ruling allowing the seven MLAs to enter the House and vote. If that happens, we will win the Rajya Sabha election on Friday and will also sail through a floor test, if it takes place. We are also hopeful of some Congress MLAs crossing over to our side,” he added.
Meanwhile, the NPF has decided to stick with the BJP and support it in the Rajya Sabha poll on Friday as well as in a floor test.
“The NPF has had an alliance with the BJP for a long time. We supported the BJP in forming a government in Manipur when it didn’t have the numbers and we will continue doing that. We don’t abandon our friends or break our ties despite BJP dishonouring agreements in the past,” said K Leishiyo, NPF MLA from Manipur.