The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government in Manipur was dealt a blow on Wednesday after three of its legislators resigned and a key alliance partner withdrew its support.
The development came two days ahead of the June 19 Rajya Sabha election for the lone seat from the state. Three BJP legislators — Samuel Jendai, TT Haokip and S Subhaschandra – resigned and joined the Congress.
Six other MLAs– all four from the National People’s Party (NPP), one from the Trinamool Congress and one independent — withdrew support to the government led by BJP’s N Biren Singh.
The four NPP MLAs are deputy chief minister Y JoyKumar Singh, tribal and hills area development minister N Kayishii, youth affairs and sports minister Letpao Haokip and health and family welfare minister L Jayanta Kumar Singh.
The resignation of the three BJP leaders is yet to be accepted by speaker Yumnam Khemchand Singh. They may also be disqualified under the anti-defection law, which bars any group with less than one-third of the party’s strength from breaking away.
Before the crisis, the BJP -led government had 39 MLAs in the 60-member House. The Opposition had 21. To win the Rajya Sabha seat, a candidate requires 26 votes. The central BJP in Delhi ruled out any threat to its government in Manipur. “At the time of 2017 assembly elections, we had 21 legislators. Then, 11 Congress members joined us. Together with NPP, NPF, TMC, LJP and one independent, our strength was 43,” a party functionary said.
A senior Congress leader said the party will meet governor Najma Heptulla Thursday and request her to convene an emergency session. A second Congress leader said the party will also give notice for a no-confidence motion against the BJP-led government.
The BJP’s woes started with the Manipur high court on June 9 restraining seven former Congress MLAs, who had joined the BJP, from entering the assembly till the speaker disposed of anti-defection cases against them.
In March this year, the Supreme Court ordered the removal of TH Shyamkumar as a minister. He had won on a Congress ticket but switched sides after results were announced.
After the one disqualification and the seven members disallowed, the effective strength of the House came down to 52.
In the 2017 election, the BJP won 21 seats while the Congress bagged 28. But the BJP formed the government with support of four legislators each from NPP and Naga People’s Front, one each from the TMC and the Lok Janshakti Party besides an independent.