GUWAHATI: Claiming that the N Biren Singh’s BJP-led government in Manipur “collapsed” as it has been reduced to a minority after nine MLAs ditched it, opposition Congress on Thursday staked claim to form a coalition government.
A Congress delegation, led by Leader of Opposition and three-time former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, met Governor Najma Heptulla and apprised her that a no-confidence motion had been moved before Speaker Khemchand Singh with a request to hold a special session of the Assembly to debate, consider and pass a resolution on the motion at the earliest.
The development came a day after three BJP MLAs had resigned from the party as well as the Assembly and six other MLAs – four from National People’s Party (NPP), one from All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) and an independent MLA – withdrew their support to the government. The Speaker, however, is yet to accept the resignation of the three BJP MLAs.
The Congress claimed the BJP-led government was reduced to a minority and “collapsed” due to “internal wrangling” within the ruling dispensation. It requested the Governor to exercise the powers under Article 174 of the Constitution to summon a special session of the Assembly to vote on the motion of no-confidence to protect democracy.
Referring to Manipur High Court’s recent order to the Speaker to restrain the entry of seven Congress MLAs, who had sided with the BJP and were facing disqualification, into the Assembly, the Congress said if they were barred from entering the House, its (Congress’s) strength would be 20, while that of the BJP after the resignation of the three MLAs had been reduced to 18.
“The present Ministry is now supported by only 23 MLAs – 18 from BJP, four from Naga People’s Front (NPF) and one from Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). On the other hand, the Secular Progressive Front (SPF) has 20 Congress MLAs, 4 NPP MLAs, 1 AITC MLA and 1 independent MLA, totaling 26 out of an effective total House strength of 49 members,” the Congress wrote in a letter signed by O Ibobi Singh and submitted to the Governor.
The Congress’s calculations of 49 members in the 60-member House were based on the disqualification of a Minister by the Speaker earlier following an order by the Supreme Court, the possible disqualification of the seven Congress MLAs in question and the resignation of the three BJP MLAs.
The Congress argued that if the disqualification petitions against the seven Congress MLAs went in their favour, then the strength of the House would rise to 56 members and that of the Congress and parties supporting it would go up to 33 as they were elected on the tickets of the Congress.
To prove that it has the numbers, the Congress submitted the letters of support from all SPF members (Congress, NPP, AITC and Independent MLA) to the Governor.
Congress spokesman Ningombam Bupenda Meitei tweeted: “It is a historic day today for the people of Manipur. On this very day of June 18, 2001, the then BJP-led coalition government at the centre had made an attempt to destroy the integrity of Manipur. The Congress and other like-minded parties, including NPP, went to Raj Bhawan to stake claim to form the government. At the same time, we also requested the Governor for a special assembly session for vote on no-confidence motion against the BJP government in Manipur. The only alternative left is the Congress-led coalition government under the leadership of tree-time former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh”.
Congress serves notice for Speaker's ouster
The Congress on Thursday sent a notice to the State Legislative Assembly Secretary for the removal of the Speaker.
The notice, submitted by Congress MLA K Meghachandra Singh under 307(1) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Manipur Assembly, was supported by 10 other MLAs, including from NPP.
“This motion for removal of the Speaker is necessitated for the reason that the Speaker has conducted himself in a manner unbecoming of the position held by him and his actions are not only unconstitutional but also illegal,” Singh wrote.
The Congress sought the Speaker’s removal as it was not happy over the manner in which he was dealing with the disqualification petitions of the seven Congress MLAs.
The Speaker was scheduled to hear the disqualification petitions on June 22 but for reasons not known, he had rescheduled it to June 18 (Thursday) and made it known on Wednesday night. The Manipur High Court on Thursday issued an order directing that “the order/judgment reserved today (Thursday) by the Hon’ble Speaker, shall not be pronounced by him till tomorrow (Friday)”.
Rajya Sabha elections to Manipur’s lone seat will be held on Friday.