BJP gets majority in Manipur, wins 32 seats

Congress was the only other party that achieved this feat once in 2012

March 10, 2022 10:53 pm | Updated 11:03 pm IST - IMPHAL

Chief Minister N. Biren Singh and Manipur BJP chief A Sharda Devi celebrate their party’s victory in Assembly polls in Imphal on March 10, 2022.

Chief Minister N. Biren Singh and Manipur BJP chief A Sharda Devi celebrate their party’s victory in Assembly polls in Imphal on March 10, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Bharatiya Janata Party has retained power in Manipur by becoming the second party after the Congress to get majority in the State’s 60-member Assembly.

The BJP won 32 seats, one more than the simple majority mark, while the Congress had bagged 42 in 2012 But the former’s performance has virtually bulldozed the latter, which ended up with five seats, two less than the National People’s Party (NPP) headed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma.

Watch | Manipur election results 2022: key winners and losers

Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh, after leading the BJP to a decisive victory, said his party would maintain the “coalition dharma” with the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and other like-minded parties but ruled out any truck with the NPP.

Both the NPP and the NPF are allies of the BJP that Mr. Singh heads, but the NPP had put his government in a fix by walking out temporarily in 2020. The NPP won three more than the four seats it won in 2017, but the architect of that walkout, Deputy Chief Minister Yumnam Joykumar lost.

The NPF, too, improved upon its 2017 performance by bagging five seats across the Naga-inhabited hills, riding on its commitment to resolving the “Indo-Naga political issue”, alluding to the peace process with the extremist National Socialist Council of Nagalim or NSCN (Isak-Muivah). Most members of the outfit are from the hills of Manipur.

Mandate 2022 threw up a few surprises in the form of the Janata Dal (United), which fielded many BJP discards and ended up winning six seats. The newly-floated Kuki People’s Alliance recorded a 100% strike rate by winning the two hill constituencies it contested.

Valleys versus hills

Manipur has been psychologically divided between the predominantly non-tribal valleys (Imphal and Jiribam) and the hills around inhabited by various tribes. The BJP, which claimed to have bridged the hill-valley gap, improved upon its 2017 show in both regions.

The party’s valley seats increased from 16 to 26 in five years and in the hills from five to six. Comparatively, the Congress mustered five seats in valleys compared to 19 in 2017 while drawing a blank in the hills (nine in 2017).

Manipur Assembly Elections 2022 | Updates

Other gainers in the hills are the NPP, the JD(U) and independents, besides the NPF and the new party catering to the aspirations of the Kuki-Zomi tribal group.

Imphal-based Yumnam Rupachandra, a political analyst, said the BJP was expected to emerge as the single-largest party. A “corporate-style” approach and a depleted Congress — the party had lost half of its 28 MLAs to the BJP much ahead of the polls — helped the saffron party cross the majority mark.

“The smaller northeastern States usually go with the dispensation that rules at the Centre. Manipur has been no exception. But the victory can be attributed to the BJP’s marketing of whatever little development it has done and playing on the Hindu and Sanamahi (indigenous faith) nationalism,” he said.

The BJP’s victory has not come without a few casualties such as Minister Oinam Lukhoi and former Minister V. Hangkhanlian, who lost to former DGP and JD(U) candidate L.M. Khaute. The setback was heavier for the Congress with former Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam and State party president N. Loken biting the dust.

The win may also have eased the BJP’s dilemma over who will become the next Chief Minister. There are at least two other contenders for the post.

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