Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh speaks in the Assembly in Imphal on Monday. (PTI)
Imphal, March 20: The six-day old BJP-led government in Manipur today won the trust vote in the Assembly. The coalition has 33 members against the Congress's 27.
Governor Najma Heptulla invited the BJP to form the government although the Congress, which was in power for 15 years, emerged the largest party with 28 legislators in the 60-member House.
Barring the Congress, the rest - NPP (4), NPF (4), one each of LJP and Trinamul Congress and one Independent - went with the BJP. Even one Congress member, Th. Shyamkumar Singh, crossed over and voted for the BJP-led ministry. He was sworn in as a cabinet minister on Wednesday.
Before the trust vote, pro tem Speaker V. Hankhalian rejected a petition submitted by Congress members to disqualify Shyamkumar Singh under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution for defying the party whip.
Hankhalian said the member could not be disqualified without following proper procedure. He maintained that the petition had been referred to the secretary of the Assembly, M. Ramani Devi.
At one point of time the chief minister and leader of the House Nongthombam Biren Singh had to intervene, urging the pro tem Speaker to deal with the matter according to the law.
The House elected BJP member Yumnam Khemchand Singh, a former taekwondo player, as the new Speaker. The Congress's Govindas Konthoujam was defeated by voice vote.
Both the ruling and Opposition members appealed to the Speaker to uphold parliamentary democracy.
The Opposition comprises 27 Congress legislators while the treasury benches have 32 members, excluding the Speaker.
The Speaker rejected an appeal by Congress member Kh. Joykisan Singh for secret ballot for the trust vote, and ruled in favour of voice vote.
"After forming the government, our first task was to lift the more than four-month-old blockade imposed by the United Naga Council. The government's priority is to develop infrastructure in the hills. We seek full cooperation from the Opposition," Biren Singh said, addressing the members after his ministry won the trust vote.
The governor will address the House and the new government will present its first budget tomorrow.
The first day of the first session of the House indicated that the Opposition Congress is going to watch the functioning of the government closely .
Several Opposition members objected to the presence of state BJP unit president K. Bhabananda Singh and party general secretary and Manipur in-charge Prahlad Singh Patel in the officers' gallery located to the right of the Speaker's table.
The pro tem Speaker maintained that the duo were invited by the governor and the seats were for them.
The Opposition also protested when the Speaker tried to pass the report of the business advisory committee without making it available to the members.