New Delhi: Manipur Chief Minister Biren Singh’s government has dodged the first threat to its survival by winning the lone Rajya Sabha seat Friday.
The victory was made possible by cross-voting of two Congress MLAs and the Speaker allowing three of the seven Congress MLAs, who had earlier crossed over to the BJP, to vote. The rest of the four turncoat MLAs have been disqualified.
The Congress, however, sent a letter to the Election Commission, demanding cancellation of two votes — one by the Speaker and the other by its own party’s MLA — as they were shown to the election agents. The party has urged the EC to hold the results of the poll.
Besides the four Congress MLAs, Speaker Y. Khemchand also disqualified one Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA in the morning before the elections, while an independent MLA abstained from voting.
BJP candidate, Leishemba Sanajaoba, the titular king of Manipur, secured 28 votes, while Congress’s T. Mangi Babu got 24 votes.
Sanajaoba got the support of 18 MLAs from the BJP, 4 from the NPP (Naga People’s Front ), 1 from LJP (Lok Janshakti Party), and five from Congress.
The Congress candidate, meanwhile, got votes from its own 20 MLAs and 4 from the NPP (National People’s Party). It had hoped to get the support of one independent MLA, who abstained from voting, and one TMC MLA, who was disqualified.
The Speaker’s decision of disqualifying four turncoat Congress MLAs and one TMC MLA seems to have changed the arithmetic.
Khemchand had earlier fixed the date of conducting the proceedings regarding the disqualification of the seven turncoat MLAs on 22 June. But Wednesday, he advanced the date to 18 June.
“… I have allowed three (Congress) MLAs and disqualified four under the Tenth Schedule of Constitution. This (decision) was pending,” Khemchand told ThePrint.
“There has been no violation of the Constitution and it was done according to the Constitution,” he added.
Boost for BJP amid turmoil
The victory is a shot in the arm for the BJP government in the state that was thrown into a crisis after nine ruling coalition members, including four ministers, resigned Wednesday.
The Congress, which has 20 MLAs in a 59-member assembly, is claiming the support of six more MLAs — 4 NPP MLAs, one independent and one from the TMC.
The BJP has 18 MLAs after the resignation of three MLAs Wednesday.
Manipur BJP President Tikendra Singh told ThePrint: “We have the numbers, which is now clear. The Congress is making hue and cry unnecessarily to destabilise the government. They are meeting the governor, asking him to dismiss the government without keeping their own house in order.”
“The government is stable and we have proved it by winning the (Rajya Sabha) election,” he added.
Speaker acting like BJP’s election agent: Congress
The Congress Friday sent a letter to the EC, asking for cancellation of the vote of the Speaker and a Congress MLA as they allegedly showed their votes to the election agents in the assembly.
Congress MLA K. Meghachandra said they have also sent a video the EC where the Speaker could be seen showing his vote to the polling agent.
“The Speaker is acting like an election agent of the BJP. This is ridiculous,” he told ThePrint.
“You can’t decide on any day (about disqualification) to ensure the victory of BJP candidates. The high court had asked not to allow the seven Congress MLAs inside the assembly. But still the Speaker acted in a partisan manner,” he said.
The Congress Thursday had even served a notice to the secretary of the Manipur assembly for the removal of the Speaker for allegedly misusing his authority.
This came after the Speaker advanced the date of proceedings regarding the disqualification of the seven turncoat MLAs to 18 June from 22 June “without any reason”.
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