Sushanta Talukdar

Prominent winners include Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, PCC president Gaikhangam, ex-CM Koijam

Imphal: The ruling Congress has emerged as the single largest party in Manipur and set to form a coalition government for another term, with the likely support of the Communist Party of India (CPI). With all results declared, the Congress has won 30 seats, only one short of an absolute majority in the 60-member Legislative Assembly.

The tally of the other parties is: CPI 4, Manipur People's Party 5, Nationalist Congress Party 5, Rashtriya Janata Dal 3, National People's Party 3, and Independents 10. The independents included six candidates backed by the United Naga Council (UNC). The BJP, which had won three seats in 2002, drew a blank.

No poll alliance

The ruling party improved its position by 10 seats from the 20 seats it had secured in the 2002 polls. The CPI, a partner in the Congress-led Secular Progressive Front (SPF), secured four seats against the strength of five it had in the outgoing Assembly. Although the two parties did not have any poll alliance, the Congress hopes to get its support to retain power.

Foothold for RJD

The opposition MPP could win only five seats, while the NCP emerged stronger winning five seats against the three seats it had won in 2002. The RJD gained a foothold in the State by winning three seats.

Of the 11 Naga-dominated constituencies, six seats were won by independent candidates backed by the UNC, apex Naga body which had made the issue of integration of Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur with Nagaland the main poll plank.

Prominent winners included Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who has won from both Khagabok and Thoubal, PCC president Gaikhangam and the former Chief Minister and State NCP president Radhabinod Koijam. Mr. Koijam won for the fifth consecutive term.

In the Thoubal constituency, Mr. Ibobi won by a margin of 11,077 votes defeating his nearest rival L. Tomba of MPP.

He also retained Khangabok constituency by defeating his nearest rival L. Jatra Singh (MPP).

Two-vote margin

Among the victorious MPP candidates is Th. Shyamkumar Singh, currently lodged in the Tihar jail on charges of being an activist of the underground United National Liberation Front (UNLF), from the Andro constituency. In the Keiro constituency, the sitting Congress member, Md. Alauddin Khan, won by the lowest margin of two votes.

Prominent losers included the former Chief Minister and senior MPP leader R.K. Dorendra, the former Chief Minister and the State RJD president W. Nipamacha Singh and Speaker Moniruddin Sheikh.

Mr. Gaikhangam described the election results as a vote for "stability, peace and development."

The Ibobi-led Congress government was the first to have lasted the full five-year term in Manipur's political history.

AICC general secretaries Oscar Fernandes and Ved Prakash arrived here on Tuesday to help in the formation of a new government.

Mr. Fernandes said that the process of government formation would begin as soon as all the elected party legislators reached Imphal.

He said that the CPI, which was a partner in the outgoing SPF Government, already indicated its willingness to support the Congress.