Imphal: Former editor and minister Nongthombam Biren was on Monday unanimously elected as the BJP legislature party leader in Manipur, and will stake claim to form the next ministry, the party said.
The election was held under the supervision of Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar and Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal here.
His name was proposed by Thongam Bishwajit, MLA and seconded by Radheshyam, Nemcha Haokip and some others.
All the 21 BJP MLAs were present in the crucial meeting.
Earlier, Bishwajit was one of the contenders. But he later withdrew to choose Biren unanimously.
Biren will be meeting Governor Najma Heptulla to stake his claim to form the next ministry.
The Bharatiya Janata Party now has the support of 32 members in the 60-member Assembly.
Biren had been editor of Maharolgi Thoudang, a vernacular daily. Later he joined politics and got elected from his Heingang constituency. He had been a cabinet minister in the Congress government for over 10 years holding important portfolios.
He had resigned from the membership of the House and the primary membership of the Congress party last year and joined the BJP.
He got elected from Heingang in the March elections.
Biren told IANS that people had voted against corruption and atrocities, including fake encounters.
"Our government shall probe various corruptions and book those guilty of fake encounters. We are thankful to the people for voting us to power and we will not let down the people," Biren said.
He was one of the Congress ministers who were critical of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh who had faced ouster campaigns. In a late night press conference on Sunday, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh said that he has requested Manipur Governor Najma Heptullah to invite the Congress to form the government as they were the single largest party.
In another development, Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh, in a sudden turn-around, on Monday evening announced that he will tender resignation within 24 hours.
"I went to the Raj Bhavan, met the governor and urged her to give the Congress the first chance to show strength on the floor of the House because the Congress is single largest party. I am hoping that governor will do justice,"he said on Sunday.
The chief minister paraded all 27 congress MLAs as a show of strength before the media. "The BJP has no principles. Before the election, they announced no ties with NPF. Now they are saying they are tying up with NPF. The people of Manipur will never accept ties with a party that is hell-bent on breaking up Manipur," he had said.
Governor Heptulla had instructed him to resign so that she could proceed with the conduct of the swearing in ceremony for the next Chief Minister. Ibobi had been refusing to resign pointing out that he enjoys majority support.
However, he has been unable to cobble up support. He claimed to enjoy the support of the four MLAs of the National People's Party on the basis of a letter he got from the party soon after the declaration of the assembly results. He may use the next 24 hours to fight a last ditch battle to woo other MLAs.
However, Vivekraj Wangkhem, general secretary of the NPP said: "There have been changes. We have decided to support the BJP. This is final. There is no question of our party supporting the Congress even if Ibobi is given a chance."
Heptulla had pointed out to Ibobi that just a letter of support would not suffice and insisted on the physical presence of the four NPP MLAs.
The BJP was within a striking distance of forming a government in Manipur for the first time though it emerged as the second largest party after the Congress, provided it is able to enlist the support of three NDA partners. The election threw up a hung verdict with none of the two mainstream parties being able to cross the magic figure of 31 in the 60-member Assembly. The Congress was the closest with 28 seats against BJP's 21, an impressive performance by all accounts.
After its stunning victory in Assam in 2016, the BJP scripted a dramatic turnaround of fortunes in the Northeast, a traditional stronghold of the Congress, bagging 36.3 percent votes, which is even higher than the Congress which polled 35.1 percent votes.
The presence of the BJP was so nominal in the state that the party had hardly fielded any candidate in the last 2012 Assembly polls.
Things looked up after the BJP's ascension to power at the Centre in 2014.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Mar 13, 2017 20:21:42 IST