The BJP government in Manipur was staring at loss of majority in the Assembly on Wednesday with its ally National People’s Party withdrawing support and three MLAs of the ruling party allegedly switching to the Congress.
The crisis has hit the Biren Singh government ahead of the June 19 election to a Rajya Sabha seat in which the Congress and the BJP fielded candidates.
All four NPP MLAs, who were ministers, resigned from their posts. Besides, an Independent MLA and the lone Trinamul Congress legislator also withdrew support to the BJP and announced their backing for the Opposition Congress which is likely to stake claim to form the government on Thursday.
The developments have “reduced” the BJP-led government’s strength to 23 in a House of 59. The NPP has been unhappy ever since deputy chief minister Yumnam Joykumar of the party was stripped of all portfolios.
Former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress has claimed the support of more than 30 MLAs but sources said the scene would become clear only on Thursday afternoon. The Congress had won 28 seats in the 2017 Assembly elections, but the BJP rode to power with the support of other parties and defectors.
Eight Congress legislators had switched to the BJP since 2017 and one of them was disqualified in March.
On June 9, the Manipur High Court barred the seven other MLAs from entering the Assembly till Speaker Yumnam Khemchand Singh disposed of anti-defection cases against them.
“If the Speaker decides to expel the seven Congress MLAs, then the defecting BJP MLAs will also face disqualification. Chief minister Biren Singh is closeted with his MLAs to come up with a plan to stave off the challenge to his government,” said a source. The BJP had won 21 seats in 2017.
The BJP government still enjoys the support of the Naga People’s Front which has four MLAs.