GUWAHATI: BY bagging 28 of the 60 seats in Manipur, the ruling Congress emerged as the single largest party in a hung Assembly, which left the BJP too with a chance to form the government. However, both parties will need the support of smaller parties besides the Independent.
For a party that failed to even open its account in the 2012 polls, the BJP’s performance of 21 seats has been the more notable feature of the Manipur election. The Congress tally of 28 falls three short of the magic figure of 31 to form a government. The Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the National People’s Party (NPP) won four seats each while LJP and Trinamool Congress won one each. An Independent was among the winners.
The Congress will look to garner the support of the Trinamool Congress and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) candidates besides the Independent. But it will be in a position to form the government only if all three of them lend their support. The catch here is that the LJP is an ally of BJP and therefore a transfer of the LJP MLA’s affections to the Congress is presently in the realm of speculation.
The support of these three MLAs will decide the fate of both the Congress and the BJP. The BJP claimed it had been assured of support by the Trinamool Congress candidate.
If the LJP candidate does not extend support to the Congress, the strength of BJP and its allies NPP and NPF will go up to 30. The saffron will then need the support of either the Independent or the Trinamool Congress candidate to be able to form a government.
The NPF and the NPP are unlikely to swim with the Congress. Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh is a bitter critic of Naga insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) and its demand for the creation of Greater Nagaland by slicing off the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur besides Assam and Arunachal. The NSCN-IM, which has been in peace mode since 1997, shares good ties with the NPF, which is a major constituent of Nagaland’s ruling alliance.
As such, it is very unlikely that the NPF will extend its support to the Congress.
The NPP, which is a party from Meghalaya, is also unlikely to back Congress. The party is an ally of the BJP and foe of the Congress. Assembly elections in Meghalaya will be held next year and the NPP will not ruin its prospects by aligning with the Congress.