6 more Cong MLAs may be ready to defect.
Guwahati: Amid charges of horse-trading and speculation about a possible split in the Congress Party in the state, the first BJP-led government in Manipur will be sworn in on Wednesday when Nongthombam Biren Singh is administered the oath of office and secrecy by state governor Najma Heptulla in Imphal. Ms Heptulla on Tuesday invited Mr Singh, who was unanimously elected leader of the 21-member BJP legislature party on Monday, to form the government.
The BJP had won 21 seats in Manipur, seven less than the Congress, but the party got the support of the National Peoples’ Party and the Naga People’s Front, both of which won four seats each, in the just-ended Assembly elections. The BJP also has the support of the Lok Janshakti Party’s single MLA.
The BJP’s strength rose to 33 in the 60-member state Assembly on Monday when a Congress MLA, Shyam Kumar from Andro, met the governor and lent support to the BJP-led alliance.
Earlier, after being elected leader by the 21-member BJP legislature party, Mr Singh staked claim to form a coalition government in the state. He also submitted a list of 33 MLAs to the governor. Manipur has a 60-member Assembly. Letters of support were given by late P.A. Sangma’s party NPP (four MLAs), NPF (four), LJP (one), Independent Ashab Uddin and T. Robindro Singh, who won on a Trinamul ticket.
BJP sources in Imphal said at least six more Congress MLAs were ready to switch over to the saffron party, and claimed that there was visible resentment in the Congress against former chief minister Ibobi Singh, who continues to be in the forefront of party affairs in the state.
However, the Congress, as the single largest party, has also staked its claim to form the government. Outgoing Congress CM Okram Ibobi Singh, who submitted his resignation on Monday, urged governor Najma Heptulla to accept his claim to head the next government in Manipur on the basis of a letter of support from the four-member NPP.
“I met the governor on Sunday night... we submitted the letter of support given by the NPP. As per democratic traditions, the single largest party should be first given the chance to form the government,” he said.
Meanwhile, National People’s Party leader Conrad Sangma denied that he had written or signed any letter supporting the Congress Party.