Manipur cliffhanger: Advantage BJP despite Congress emerging as single largest party

Despite coming out as the single largest party in Manipur, the odds are stacked heavily against the incumbent Congress in the state. With 28 seats, it is three short of the magic figure to get a simple majority.

The BJP, which has been the biggest gainer (the party could not open its account in 2012 assembly polls) in these election has won 21. But what gives them a clear advantage is the fact that like-minded parties on whom it is depending for support to form its maiden government in Manipur have done well too.

Another factor that could weigh in its favour is the fact that it is in power at the Centre. Regional Naga Peoples Front (NPF) which is a constituent of the North East Democratic Alliance or NEDA (the north-east offshoot of the NDA) has won 4 seats.

Conrad Sagma's National Peoples Party too has 4. To add to the NDA basket, Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party too has won a seat in the Manipur assembly.

Thus, even though the BJP has 21, it hopes to get NPF(4), NPP(4) and LJP(1) onboard to close-in to the magic figure but falls short by a single seat.

"My calculation is that we will be able to have an understanding with other local parties," BJP's chief architect in the northeast Ram Madhav told India Today on Saturday.

"NPP and NPF have been with us in different states. Here the vote is primarily against the Congress and therefore they (smaller parties) must keep that in mind," he added. Madhav and Himanta Biswa Sarma, both of the BJP strategists for the borth-east are camping in Imphal at present.

On Saturday afternoon, even when the numbers were pouring in, they held a crucial meeting with NPP leader Conrad Sangma.

THE ROLE OF OTHERS

Given the circumstances, the role of "others", which include an Independent legislator from Jiribam and the lone Trinamool Congress MLA become extremely crucial.

Both BJP and Congress will have to woo these two MLA's to get the calculation right. Sources close to Congress suggest that the Independent legislator from Jiribam, a Muslim candidate is almost certain to support it.

In that case, the lone Trinamool Congress MLA from Thanga, T Robindro Singh may emerge to be the kingmaker. Singh is also the president of the Trinamool's Manipur unit currently.

BJP sources claim they have already opened channels with Singh for his support. Given the circumstances, the party clearly has an edge over Congress to form the next government in Manipur, its third in the region after Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. For now, all eyes will be on BJP veteran Najma Heptulla, who has recently been appointed the Governor of Manipur.

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