The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Nongthombam Biren Singh was today elected the legislature party leader at a legislators' meeting in Manipur. A BJP delegation later travelled to Raj Bhavan to meet Governor Najma Heptullah and stake claim to form the next government.
Meanwhile, the incumbent chief minister, the Congress' Okram Ibobi Singh, has resigned.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal, who was appointed an observer for Manipur yesterday, said Biren Singh was elected unanimously.Goyal had arrived in Imphal with HRD minister Prakash Javadekar.
After the BJP delegation's meeting with the Governor, Goyal claimed the BJP had as many 33 MLAs on its side, thanks to support from a Trinamool Congress MLA and an independent legislator.
Governor Heptulla is likely to invite the BJP to form the government.
LEFT CONGRESS DUE TO 'MISGOVERNANCE': BIREN SINGH
A former member of the Indian National Congress, Biren Singh said he left the Grand Old Party due to "misgovernance" and that he was sure that the BJP would give Manipur good governance, ANI reported.
He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah and other senior leaders.
As well, the BJP's CM candidate told India Today that the BJP had the required numbers (to stake claim to form a government), and that the Naga People's Front had offered its unconditional support to the party.
Congress member V Moily said his party was only two seats short of a majority, and accused the Manipur of incompetence.
- ANI (@ANI_news) March 13, 2017
Earlier, another Congress leader, CP Joshi, had blamed the BJP for horsetrading, and said the party was trying to poach the Congress' MLAs. The Congress was the largest single party, and the Governor should call them first, he added.
The BJP hadn't announced any pre-poll alliance, he said.
BJP's SHOW OF STRENGTH
Earlier, in an informal show of strength before Governor Najma Heptulla, the BJP - led by its north east in-charge Ram Madhav and Himanta Biswa Sarma - paraded 32 MLAs supporting the party. The 32 legislators in the BJP's delegation included Congress MLA from Andro Shyam Kumar and the lone Trinamool Congress MLA in the state Robindro Singh.
Though the Congress claimed that it had the support of the four National People's Party MLAs, Vivekraj Wangkhem of the NPP maintained his party was supporting the BJP to form government.
"Our party and elected members have extended support to the BJP in the formation of the government," he said. Wangkhem also said that the party's earlier written assurance to the Congress is invalidated.
The NPP's Conrad Sangma, too, confirmed that his party supports the BJP, and added that a letter the Congress claimed the NPP had written in support of it, didn't even have the official letterhead.
- ANI (@ANI_news) March 13, 2017
HOW THE BJP REACHED THE 'MAGIC NUMBER'
In the 60-seat Manipur assembly, the magic figure to form government is 31. BJP, which has 21 MLAs of its own, earlier claimed it has the formal support of a total of 30 MLAs with 4 National Peoples Party (NPP) members, 4 Naga Peoples Front (NPF) membrs and one Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) member pledging their support.
To everyone's surprise, a Congress MLA from Andro Shyam Kumar and Trinamool Congress MLA Robindro Singh had joined the delegation.
Technically, the defecting Congress candidate stands for disqualification due to the move. Which means that the effective strength of the house gets reduced to 59. In that case, the magic figure will be 30 which the BJP combine already has.
(Inputs from agencies)