As the country continues its battle against Coronavirus and the defence forces are involved in a highly charged situation with China at the LAC a Ladakh, a new political drama has started in the North Eastern state Manipur. The BJP led government is now looking towards after they lost the support of 9 MLAs.
The N. Biren Singh government faced the crisis after the National People’s Party (NPP) with 4 MLAs withdrew their support to the government. The ministers of the NPP also resigned from the cabinet, including Deputy CM Joykumar Singh. Along with this, three MLAs from BJP also resigned from the party and joined Congress. The lone Trinamool Congress MLA Tongbram Robindro Singh from Thanga, and independent MLA from Jiriban, Ashab Uddin, who were supporting the BJP led government, also withdrew the support, thereby the govt lost the support of 9 MLAs. The BJP MLAs to switch to Congress are Soibam Subhaschandra Singh, TT Haokip and Samuel Jendai.
With this, the strength of the government has reduced to 30 in the house. In the assembly elections in 2017, BJP had won 21 seats, while Congress had emerged as largest party with 28 MLAs but fell short of the majority mark. BJP was able to form the government led by Biren Singh with the support of 4 NPP MLAs, 4 NPF MLAs and one LJP MLA. Later, eight MLAs from Congress had left the party and joined BJP, reducing the Congress total to 20. Subsequently the TMC member and one independent MLA also decided to extend support to the NDA government, and the total strength of the BJP led government was 40 in the state.
In March this year, BJP MLA Thounaojam Shyamkumar was disqualified as a member of the Assembly, who had won the elections on a Congress ticket but joined BJP even before being he was sworn in as a member of the house. The assembly speaker had disqualified him after the Supreme Court had ordered his removal based on a disqualification petition filed by Congress leaders. At present the Andro constituency that he had represented is vacant, and hence the total strength of the house is 59.
After the exit of 3 BJP MLAs, the party has now 25 MLAs, although the CM said that party strength is still 27. The government still has the support of NPF with 4 MLAs and LJP with one MLA. Therefore, the strength of the government remains 30 in the 59-member house.
But earlier in this month, the Manipur High Court had ruled that the remaining 7 former Congress MLAs who had joined BJP, can’t enter the assembly until the petitions for their disqualification are decided by the speaker’s tribunal. Therefore, these seven MLAs can’t vote in the house. This means if a trust vote takes place, BJP will not get their votes, and the party will be reduced to only 22 votes, excluding the speaker. On the other hand, Congress now has 23 MLAs including 3 who defected from BJP, and will get the support of 6 others who left the govt today, giving them 29. This means Congress will more numbers in the house where the total strength will be effectively reduced to 52, as BJP and allies have 27 MLAs now.
But it remains to be seen if the 3 BJP MLAs who joined Congress today are allowed to vote as they are also bound to face disqualification charges. If they are barred, Congress numbers will drop to 26.