In Manipur, Ibobi Singh Step Downs as Chief Minister But Won't Step Away

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In Manipur, Ibobi Singh Step Downs as Chief Minister But Won't Step Away

Chief Minister Ibobi Singh says he will quit "today or tomorrow" and stake claim for a fourth term.

Imphal:  Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who tried to prevent Governor Najma Heptulla from inviting the BJP to form the government by holding back his resignation, has finally quit and staked claim to get a fourth term as Manipur's head of government.

But it may not be easy for Mr Singh to get the invite. With 28 seats, he is the leader of the single largest party in Manipur but the BJP seems to have already persuaded Raj Bhavan that it had the majority support.

Governor Heptulla has made it clear that the BJP - which came second in the Manipur assembly elections with 21 out of 60 seats - had met her with a list of 32 legislators who back the BJP. Ms Heptulla has, according to news agency ANI, said she was "satisfied" with the BJP's claim though she was still waiting for Mr Singh to put in his papers.

Power Minister Piyush Goyal who was camping in Manipur capital Imphal, went ahead to name Nongthombam Biren Singh as the party's chief ministerial candidate soon after. Once a key aide of Mr Ibobi Singh, the BJP's candidate for the top job in the state joined the BJP only in October 2016. Mr Biren Singh, who was the BJP legislature party's unanimous choice, said he had quit the Congress due to bad governance and expressed confidence that the BJP will deliver on its good governance plank.

But Mr Ibobi Singh - who has been the state's chief minister for 15 years - made it clear that Raj Bhavan could not brush aside his claim.

Among the 32 lawmakers who the BJP told the Governor supported them included one legislator each from the Congress and the Trinamool Congress.

"Our party is intact... the TMC member is also with us," Mr Singh told reporters at a Press conference. Referring to his meeting with Governor Heptulla, the three-time Manipur Chief Minister said when he requested the Governor to start the process of government formation at his meeting yesterday, he was told that Raj Bhavan first wanted him to put in his papers.

Ibobi Singh later called on Governor to submit his resignation and staked claim.

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