Written byShalini Ojha
The BJP-led coalition in Manipur is facing an existential crisis after nine MLAs, three from the saffron party itself, withdrew support from Chief Minister N Biren Singh's government on June 17.
In an attempt to save the government, four rebel MLAs of National People's Party, a key member of the alliance, were flown to Delhi for talks with BJP's top brass.
Here's what happened.
Manipur has a 60-member strong Assembly, but after the resignations, the NDA alliance is left with just 22 MLAs. The opposition Congress has 29 MLAs and is now eyeing the CM seat.
The crisis in the alliance has three major players — CM Biren Singh, deputy CM Y Joykumar Singh, and BJP's Th Biswajit Singh.
Biswajit and Biren have been at loggerheads since 2017.
Biswajit seemed like the best face after BJP's K Joykisan Singh quit the party and joined Congress. Dumping his hopes, BJP made Biren its star in the Northeastern state.
CM Biren stripped the aforementioned two leaders of their key portfolios last year.
The matter was resolved after Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP's troubleshooter in Northeast, visited the state several times.
The problem resurfaced in April this year after Joykumar dismissed Biren's food security announcement, saying not enough essentials reached his constituency. He was removed from the cabinet again.
In fact, BJP legislator S Rajen dared Joykumar, a member of NPP, to quit the government.
The alliance assumed even with a couple of resignations they would still have the majority in the Assembly.
In April, Sarma couldn't pay attention to the turmoil in Manipur as he was busy with the coronavirus crisis in Assam. The overconfidence proved disastrous for Biren when apart from four NPP members, three BJP MLAs jumped ships for Congress. The alliance lost the support of independents and Trinamool as well.
These developments reignited hopes of Congress' Okram Ibobi Singh for another CM term.
To contain the crisis, BJP will be holding talks with rebel MLAs. They were first brought to Guwahati and then taken to Delhi.
"This time we want to address all the issues raised by the MLAs. We want to resolve all the issues once for all so that we can concentrate on development and election," Sarma, the convenor of North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), said.
At Imphal Airport, Sarma said all issues can't be solved by him, hence, a meeting with seniors was arranged.
Reportedly, the rebel MLAs dislike Biren's autocratic attitude and want him to be replaced.
"The spirit of the NDA or the North East Democratic Alliance will remain, but there may be some changes in the architecture," Sarma said earlier, indicating that Biren might be sacked.
Meanwhile, just as Ibobi, who served as Manipur's CM between 2002 and 2017, led the plan to topple Biren's government, a graft case was reopened against him by CBI.
A Manipur Development Society scam of approximately Rs. 332 crore has brought him in the limelight again.
He has been summoned by CBI. A team has already arrived in Imphal for his interrogation.
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