Tussle in Manipur BJP for CM’s post

Party gets a clear majority by bagging 32 seats in 60-member Assembly

March 11, 2022 05:27 pm | Updated 06:26 pm IST - IMPHAL

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

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

The BJP is reportedly caught in a tug of war for the Manipur Chief Minister’s post a day after coasting to a clear majority by bagging 32 seats in the 60-member Assembly.

A section within the BJP feels incumbent Nongthombam Biren Singh, who led the party to victory, should be the natural choice for continuing at the helm. Another says this would undermine the crucial role played by other leaders who helped the party grow from strength to strength.

Watch | Manipur election results 2022: key winners and losers

“We have a parliamentary board that will name the next Chief Minister in consultation with the State unit leadership,” State BJP president A. Sharda Devi told journalists on Friday around the time Mr. Singh met Governor La Ganesan to tender his resignation as Chief Minister.

He has been asked to continue as the caretaker Chief Minister until the next government is installed.

‘Dynastic’ politics

Mr Singh’s detractors are believed to have sounded the central BJP leadership about the “dynastic” politics that the party talks against. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had attributed the BJP’s victory in four States on Thursday to the people’s rejection of dynastic politics.

“One of our victorious candidates is the son-in-law of the Chief Minister,” a senior BJP leader of a dissident camp said, declining to be quoted. He referred to Rajkumar Imo Singh, who won the Sagolband Assembly constituency for the third straight term. He has rooted for Mr. Singh to be in charge again. “He is the people’s choice,” he told a section of the media.

The Chief Minister’s younger brother, N. Rajendra, had sought a BJP ticket from Khundrakpam and had even tried to contest as an independent. He was dissuaded.

The BJP is believed to have been divided into a few camps headed by chief minister aspirants. They include senior Minister Thongam Biswajit and former State Congress president Konthoujam Govindas, who has his roots in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Among the Chief Minister’s camp followers is a close associate, S.S. Olish, who won the Chandel seat. She is one of three women candidates of the BJP who were elected.

JD(U), NPF likely to be allies

Friday saw Sapam Nishikant, a former BJP leader who won the Keishamthong constituency as an independent, pledge support to the saffron party. Two other independent candidates are also expected to be the party’s associate members.

Mr. Singh on Thursday said his party would maintain the “coalition dharma” with the Naga People’s Front (NPF), which became a constituent of his government in 2017. Despite getting majority, the BJP is expected to “reward” the NPF for a strategic electoral understanding that wiped the Congress off the Naga-dominated hills of the State.

The NPF won five seats, one more than in 2017.

Also in the BJP’s scheme of things is the Janata Dal (United) that had carried the tag of the former’s “B-team” ahead of the polls and ended up winning six seats. Some of the winners had switched over from the BJP after being denied ticket.

That would leave the National People’s Party (NPP) and the Congress as the only two parties in the Opposition. The NPP won seven and the Congress five seats.

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