Though no party gained absolute majority in Manipur in the declared results of Assembly polls on Saturday, the ruling Congress emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats just three seats behind the tally of 31 required to form a government.
The results defied the CVoter survey results which predicted 25 to 31 seats for BJP and 23 at the most for Congress. The number of seats gained by BJP in this election is 21.
The saffron party saw a giant stride in terms of gains in number of seats and vote share from what it was in the earlier Assembly election held in 2012.
In the last Assembly election the saffron party won no seat and garnered only 2.12 percent of votes compared to 21 seats and the 34.46 percent vote share it acquired this time. On the other hand the Congress saw decline in 11.02 percent votes.
It is likely that the Congress will be able to garner support from the 11 MLAs who have won either as independents or candidates from comparatively smaller parties. But there is a catch.
The Naga People’s Front that has won four seats will not support Congress, said a press release issued by it. The release also said that it will support any non-Congress led government.
It was a predictable move as it’s mentor United Naga Council has already declared Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress government as anti-Naga.
This condition leaves the regional party with the option to support BJP. In that case the BJP’s tally will go up to 25 seats, which is only three seats lesser than what the Congress has won.
Sources in the BJP told Firstpost that the saffron party is in talks with other smaller parties and independents to cobble up more support to form a government.
Though the Congress is also in talks with these MLAs with equal assiduousness, the decision declared by the NPF to not to support Congress puts the grand old party on back foot, especially at a time when the BJP is in power at the center.
Experts in Manipur politics told Firstpost that it would have been difficult for the Congress to form a government if it fails to get at least 25 seats.
“In that case many of the MLAs would have looked upto BJP, as it is in power at the Centre, for political stability. Such a situation would have brought advantage for the saffron party,” said Professor Oinam Bhagat, of Jawahar Lal Nehru University.
Though this risk predicted by Bhagat has been minimised to a great extent as the Congress crossed the danger mark of 25 seats, but the risk of a fall in the government will exist even if it manages to patch up the deficit of three MLAs, as the support from smaller parties is easy to lose as well.
Manipur like many other states in the North Eastern region is suffering from severe fund crunch and joining hands with the party in power at the Centre is seen as a smarter move by the MLAs, which also makes their support fickle. Hence not being able to garner support from the four NPF MLAs puts Congress not-so-far-away from this risk.
If the grand old party succeeds in consolidating support from the remaining seven non-BJP and non-Congress MLAs, then it will pave way for Okram Ibobi for the fourth term creating a rare history in the region.
Okram Ibobi Singh faced strong anti incumbency current towards the end of his third term. But ethnic tension between the Nagas and the Meiteis that triggered a four month long economic blockade worked in his favour as the majority Meiteis sided with him.
Updated Date: Mar 12, 2017 14:44 PM