As BJP Wins Manipur Rajya Sabha Seat, Congress Launches Attack

The Congress on Thursday had moved a no-confidence motion against the Biren Singh-led government in Manipur, a day after nine legislators withdrew support from the government.

Leisemba Sanajaoba managed to get 28 of 52 votes in a boost for the Biren Singh government.

As the BJP won eight of the 19 Rajya Sabha seats in the biennial elections held in eight states on Friday, the victory in Manipur was probably the most significant. BJP candidate Leisemba Sanajaoba - Manipur's royal scion- won the election to the lone Rajya Sabha seat, defeating Congress nominee T. Mangibabu in a high-voltage political drama triggered by the rebellion of nine MLAs of the ruling BJP-led coalition.

Leisemba Sanajaoba managed to get 28 of 52 votes in a boost for the Biren Singh government, a day after the Congress moved a no-confidence vote against the ruling coalition in Manipur.

However, soon after the results, former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh alleged: "There have been poll code violations." 

The Congress, which got 24 votes, complained to the Election Commission that at least two MLAs - including Speaker Yumnam Khemchand Singh - showed their ballot papers to "unauthoried people".

"In 2017 state polls, the Congress had won 28 of 60 assembly seats. But eight MLAs from he Congress subsequently supported the BJP without leaving the party. One of them even became a minister. The Congress had moved a petition for their disqualification. One of them, who was a minister, was disqualified after the Supreme Court stepped in," said Congress MLA K Meghachandra.

"For the rest seven, speaker tribunal had to take a decision" he added.

"The Manipur High Court had directed these seven MLAs not to enter the assembly until the speaker had decided over their fate. The High Court had further asked the speaker to keep his decision in abeyance till yesterday but the speaker went forward to declare his decision. Out of the seven, he allowed three to vote, four were not allowed. On top of it the only TMC MLA who was never part of this was also disqualified by the speaker yesterday," the Congress MLA said, alleging a foul play. 

The Congress on Thursday had moved a no-confidence motion against the Biren Singh-led government in Manipur, a day after nine legislators withdrew support from the government. The no-confidence motion was moved after the Manipur unit of the Conrad Sangma-led National People's Party or NPP -- a key BJP ally in the northeast --formed an alliance with the Congress.

In the 60-member assembly, there are eight Congress MLAs who supported Biren Singh in 2017. One is already disqualified and seven others were barred by the Manipur High Court from the assembly premises till the Speaker gives a final decision on their disqualification.

Three BJP MLAs resigned, which brought down the effective strength of the house to 49. The majority mark is 25. Of the 49 MLAs, the BJP had the support of 23, the Congress has the support of 26 before the Rajya Sabha election.

Congress's new alliance -  the Secular Progressive Front or SPF - also got the support of one Trinamool Congress and one Independent MLA. The TMC MLA, however, was not allowed to vote to elect the Rajya Sabha candidate on Friday.

"In Manipur BJP won by 4 more votes in Rajya sabha. Number of MLAs barred by the speaker from voting for congress is also 4. BjP would be foolish to call it a victory," said Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi who is also the AICC general secretary incharge of Manipur.

While the N Biren Singh-led government had plunged into trouble with the numbers shifting in favour of Congress-led Secular Progressive Front, the Rajya Sabha elections, however, have brought some relief to the ruling coalition. With the Rajya Sabha seat in its pocket, the BJP may have little reason to fear a trust vote.

"Rajya Sabha elections was like a war this time... so we have done what needs to be done and what is in our capacity and for the good of the people," said cabinet minister Biswajit Singh on Friday.

"The Rajya Sabha results in Manipur show who has the numbers" Mr Singh quipped.