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BJP clinches lone RS seat in Manipur

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Imphal, June 20: BJP candidate Leisemba Sanajaoba won the election to the lone Rajya Sabha seat in Manipur on Friday, defeating the Congress nominee in a high-voltage political drama amid the changing electoral equations in the state.

Sanajaoba, the titular king of Manipur, received 28 votes, according to Returning Officer M Ramani Devi.

BJP candidate Leisemba Sanajaoba

Congress candidate T Mangi Babu got 24 votes, she said.

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    The win will be a major boost to the ruling BJP-led coalition in the state which was on a sticky wicket after the rebellion of nine MLAs, including Deputy Chief Minister Y Joykumar.

    Of the nine, BJP MLAs BJP MLAs S Subhashchandra Singh, T T Haokip and Samuel Jendai who resigned from the primary membership of the party and the assembly could not cast their votes.

    Four National People's Party (NPP) ministers, who had withdrawn their support from the ruling coalition, have exercised their franchise.

    Apart from Joykumar, the other three are Tribal and Hills Area Development Minister N Kayishii, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Letpao Haokip, and Health and Family Welfare Minister L Jayanta Kumar Singh.

    Lone Trinamool Congress MLA T Robindro Singh, who also pulled out of the N Biren Singh-led dispensation, was also not allowed to cast his vote. He lodged a complaint to the Election Commission in this regard.

    In his complaint, Singh said he was disqualified by the Speaker under the 10th schedule on Thursday "without following the due process".

    He claimed he was not given any notice to put forward his defence.

    Three Congress defectors -- Ksh Biren Singh, S Bira Singh, Surchandra Singh -- were not allowed to cast their votes as cases are pending against them. However, the other four defectors could vote.

    One recently disqualified MLA was also barred from taking part in the voting process.

    Manipur has 60 assembly seats.

    Chief Minister N Biren Singh congratulated Sanajaoba on winning the election.

    After being handed over the election certificate by the Returning Officer in the night, Sanajaoba returned to the royal palace where he was accorded a grand welcome by his supporters.

    Meanwhile, senior Congress leaders Ajay Maken and Gaurav Gogoi who reached Imphal in the evening to take stock of the developing political situation in the state were quarantined at two separate hotels following COVID-19 guidelines, sources in their party said.

    Led by former Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, the Congress, which stepped up efforts to oust the BJP-led government, again reached out to Governor Najma Heptulla in the evening.

    Congress-led Secular People's Front (SPF), which was formed amid the changing political landscape in the state, has already urged the Governor to call special assembly session for taking up a no-confidence motion and invite them to form the new government in Manipur.

    Among those who withdrew support from the government is Independent MLA Shahabuddin.

    Congratulating the chief minister and his party colleagues for the victory, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said the party's win in the Rajya Sabha election should put to rest all speculation about the Manipur government's stability and future.

    "Congress party couldnt win d RS seat in Manipur. Yet went to governor claiming they have majority in Assembly. Their leader Ajay Maken and MP Gaurav Gogoi entered Manipur disregarding Corona guidelines. They have been promptly quarantined by d state health authorities," he tweeted.

    The voting for the Rajya Sabha seat started at 9 am and concluded at 4 pm following all COVID-19-related guidelines.

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