Imphal, March 14: Suddenly, the hill state of Manipur in northeast region, often ignored by mainstream India, has become the 'darling' of major political parties. Both the biggest national parties--the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress--are fighting a prestige battle in the state to form the next government.
Even after three days since the assembly election results of the state were declared on Saturday, there is no clarity on which political party is forming the government in Manipur. Both the BJP and the Congress are claiming that they have the numbers (31 seats in the 60-member Manipur Assembly) to form the next government in the state.
It is not just the confusion that surrounds the government formation in the state; the hung assembly verdict has led to some strange incidents like allegations of abduction and defection that are contrary to the country's democratic values.
First, let us cite the case of abduction. On Sunday, reports indicated that Independent MLA from Jiribam, Ashab Uddin, was abducted at Imphal airport. In fact, Congress spokesperson Randeep S Surjewala tweeted about the incident. "BJP now misusing CISF & Airport authorities to detain & abduct Independent MLA, Asabuddin at Imphal, Airport and take him to Calcutta," tweeted Surjewala.
There are several conflicting versions of the same story. According to one version, Ashab Uddin had landed at Imphal's Tulihal airport from Guwahati on Sunday. Soon after landing, he was allegedly detained by the CISF personnel on duty. Since then he is untraceable.
The Congress party leaders said Ashab Uddin had come from Guwahati along with another Congress leader Md Abdul Nashir in the same flight. The Congress alleges that the entire 'abduction' of the Independent MLA was carried out by the BJP. "The BJP is playing such dirty games to wrest power. They are using the CISF to meet their political ends," a senior Congress leader from Manipur told reporters.
As far as defection is concerned, the saffron party claims that around 13 newly-elected Congress MLAs are likely to join the BJP soon. Congress MLA Shyamkumar Singh from Andro constituency left his former party on Sunday. Convener of North-East Democratic Alliance, Himanta Biswa Sarma, told the media that more Congress MLAs are likely to join the BJP in coming days.
He claimed that another 13 Congress MLAs will join the BJP soon. In fact, Singh and Sarma, who has been closely monitoring the BJP's affairs in Manipur, were seen together travelling in the same vehicle on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Ripun Bora of Congress from Assam alleged that the BJP is resorting to horse-trading to come to power in Manipur. "We got information that the BJP hijacked five-six Congress MLAs and took them to Guwahati, this is horse-trading," Bora told reporters.
In the 60-member Manipur Assembly, a party (with or without allies) needs the support of 31 MLAs to stake its claim to form the government. Although the Congress has secured 28 seats, getting the maximum seats in the 60-member Manipur Assembly in the recently concluded elections, the BJP with 21 seats has staked its claim to form the next government in the state.
On Sunday, the BJP submitted a list of 32 legislators to Manipur Governor Najma Heptullah, claiming the support of 11 other MLAs -- four of Naga People's Front, four National People's Party, one Lok Janshakti Party, one Independent and one Trinamool Congress Party. Meanwhile, the BJP unanimously elected N Biren Singh as the leader of the legislature party on Monday. If the party comes to power in the state, Singh will be the next chief minister of Manipur.
On the Congress' front, after much-delay, incumbent Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh tendered his resignation on Monday. However, the former CM said he was ready for a floor test and expressed confidence that he has the numbers with him.