Guwahati: Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Sanajaoba Leishemba, who is Manipur’s titular king, won the lone Rajya Sabha seat from the state on Friday by securing 28 votes amid an ongoing power tussle between the two parties following the defections of nine lawmakers from the governing coalition on Wednesday. Leishemba defeated Congress’s T Mangibabu.
Leishemba sailed through after Manipur assembly speaker Yumnam Khemchand Singh allowed four of the seven lawmakers, who had defected from the Congress to BJP after the 2017 polls, to vote but barred the three others (WHY). The Manipur high court had on June 9 barred the seven from entering the assembly until the speaker took a call on the disqualification proceedings against them. On Thursday, the high court asked the speaker not to decide on their cases till Friday.
A Trinamool Congress (TMC) legislator, who was among those who withdrew support to the BJP on Wednesday, was also not allowed to vote, forcing his to move the high court against it.
The 60-member Manipur assembly’s strength was reduced to 59 after BJP lawmaker Thounaojam Shyamkumar Singh, who had defected to the Congress in 2017, resigned after a Supreme Court order.
On Friday, 52 of the 59 voted. The polling ended at 4 pm, but the counting of votes started around 8:30 pm as the Congress complained about the irregularities during the voting process and the Election Commission (EC) took time to look into them. The Congress has asked the EC to reject votes of two lawmakers, including that of the speaker, for violating polling norms.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh thanked the people of Manipur and everyone who took part in the election. “We are very happy to elect our titular king as a Rajya Sabha Member,” he said.
He added they got 28 of the 52 votes polled and added the result shows the BJP-led government has the majority to stay in power.
Leishemba said Rajya Sabha would give him a good platform to work for Manipur and its people.
The Congress on Thursday staked a claim for form the next government in Manipur after three BJP lawmakers resigned and six others withdrew their support to the ruling coalition.
A delegation of the newly-formed Congress-led Secular Progressive Front (SPF) met Manipur governor Najma Heptullah on Friday to seek a special assembly session for a trust vote. “Today, Congress has 24 MLAs [members of legislative assembly] while the BJP has only 18. Therefore, to uphold democracy, a trust vote is needed soon,” said Mizoram Congress spokesperson Ningombam Bupenda Meitei.
Former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh, former Manipur Congress president Gaikhangam and National People’s Party (NPP) leader Y Joykumar Singh were also a part of the delegation.
Okram Ibobi Singh wrote to Heptullah on Thursday, saying they have moved a no-confidence while calling for the session “at the shortest possible time” to vote on it. He wrote alternatively, “since the present ministry is in minority, it may be dismissed outright”.
He appended letters of support from other members of SPF—20 from Congress, four from NPP, one TMC, and an independent lawmaker.