Manipur government formation: Did Congress try to trick Governor Najma Heptulla over support from NPP with forgery?

Arkadev Ghoshal
BJP's N Biren Singh to take oath as CM of Manipur on March 15

The issue of government formation in Goa and Manipur seems to be generating controversy every hour. After Congress leader P Chidambaram said the party coming second in elections should not be invited to form government — because that is exactly what BJP did in both Goa and Manipur — it seems Congress tried to pull a fast one with Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla, but got caught.

Also read: Manipur election ends, politics of numbers begins: Congress says BJP has abducted independent MLA as BJP seeks appointment with governor

What Congress tried to do

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On Monday, Congress leader and incumbent Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh met Governor Najma Heptulla to stake his claim for government formation in the state. This was just hours after BJP met Heptulla and showed her the numbers, leading her to invite them to form government.

Interestingly, Ibobi Singh — who Heptulla had asked to resign — brought with him a letter purportedly signed by the president and secretary of National People's Party (NPP) showing that the outfit supported Congress. The party had 4 MLAs, and when combined with the 28 MLAs of Congress, they would have 32 MLAs, which is more than majority in the 60-member Manipur Assembly.

Where Congress was caught

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Heptulla told reporters after denying Congress the chance to form the government under Ibobi Singh: "I told him: 'You cannot bring a letter on behalf of the NPP, because the NPP president gave me a letter an hour ago with its four MLAs supporting BJP." She also said she had asked Ibobi Singh to resign, but he went away without saying anything.

To further bolster BJP's claim to form government, she said: "I have the document of the state BJP president. They paraded the people [MLAs], which was shown on TV." Therefore, there was no way in which she could have accepted the letter bearing signature of the NPP president and secretary.

Forgery or double-timing?

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The big question that now arises is how come Congress came to possess a letter signed by the NPP leadership showing support to the party, when the NPP MLAs were already paraded before the Governor by BJP, who claimed their support.

One possible explanation could be that the NPP leaders were double-timing Congress: They had given Congress their support in writing, but when the opportunity to be a part of the government presented itself, they switched their support to BJP. A second and much more disturbing possibility is that the document Congress presented to Heptulla was a forgery.

It remains to be seen whether any legal action is taken in this regard.

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