With Assembly elections due next year, Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Govindas Konthoujam has tendered his resignation from the post on Tuesday. Additionally, at least eight Congress MLAs will reportedly join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today.
A six-time consecutively elected Congress MLA from Bishnupur Assembly Constituency, Konthoujam was also the Chief Whip of the Congress Legislature Party of the MPCC. He had also served as a Cabinet Minister in Manipur and was appointed as the president of MPCC by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi in December last year.
The resignation comes as a jolt to the Congress party, which is preparing for the polls that are slated to take early next year. The BJP formed the government in the state for the first time in 2017. It will try to retain power in the 60 seats of the Legislative Assembly.
However, the resignation has not dampened the spirit of the state Congress unit, which is focusing on its ‘Mission 2022’, aiming to win not less than 45 of 60 seats. Congress leader Gaikhangam Gangmei had said that the defection of the MLAs do not weaken “the party in any way”. He further added that those who chose to defect to the ruling BJP “lack political principles”.
The Congress party had bagged more seats than the BJP in the 2017 polls. But it nevertheless failed to cross the halfway mark of 31 and was unable to cobble up an alliance to stake its claim at the government. The BJP, on the other hand, racked up 21 seats but it was nimble enough to stitch alliance with other parties to form a government in the state.
Presently, the Assembly has an effective strength of 56, with the BJP’s 25 members and Congress’ 17 members. The NPP and NPF have 4 members each. The Trinamool Congress has one MLA and there are 3 independent MLAs. Four seats are lying vacant in the House.