Manipur Rajya Sabha polls: Sarma-Sangma duo fly in for “damage control”

-Avishek Sengupta

The crisis had not been averted in Manipur even after a victory in the state’s lone Rajya Sabha seat as a new alliance led by opposition Congress including three rebel BJP MLAs and all the National people’s Party (NPP) – that once shared the dream of “Congress-free India” with BJP — has formed and sought a “floor test”.

So, the BJP brings in the artillery, Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma who flew in Manipur on Sunday along with NPP Chief and Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma, for “damage control”.

Sangma and Sarma on reaching Imphal were believed to have held ‘several rounds’ of meeting with NPP leaders both together and separately.

NPP, played a key role in BJP’s victory in Manipur Assembly elections in 2017 when with 21 seats, BJP despite trailing seven less than Congress formed a government with 11 other MLAs support, four of which, were NPP.

However, last Wednesday, when nine legislators – three rebel BJP MLAs, four NPP one TMC, and one independent – withdrew support after one legislator already disqualified, and seven others were barred from the Assembly by the Manipur High Court, BJP landed on sticky wickets.

The NPP withdraw of support was due to certain “friction” with the leadership in the BJP led government in Manipur, Sangma had earlier said.

NPP president Thangminlien Kipgen in a statement listed out the reason for withdrawing support from the coalition government. He said that BJP led Government in Manipur was formed in 2017 with five political parties however BJP is running the Government in an autocratic manner and refuses to form a Steering Committee.

“My party had proposed to have a “Common Minimum Programme” for the development of the state of Manipur on a priority basis however it could not be materialized.” He added that every political party has its own political ideology and identity. However, the Coalition government of five political parties should be christened by a name of the coalition front they did not take heed but turn into deaf ears to it by the BJP led Government.

“BJP has forgotten the existence of NPP and the role they played during the formation of the BJP led Government in 2017. There was no consultation of NPP while taking any major decisions for the state by BJP. Even they have failed to serve an invitation to us at any National or State functions”.

While Sangma is believed to have been trying to ‘persuade’ his MLAs to ‘reconsider’ their decision to withdraw support from the Congress-led coalition SPF that is pushing for a special session of the assembly where they plan to move a ‘no-confidence motion’.

NPP sources have added, that Sunday meetings have remained’ inconclusive’.

Meanwhile, Congress has adopted a two-pronged strategy. While in one hand it weighing the legal options it has to challenge the Speaker’s decision not to allow four Congress MLAs not to vote in Rajya Sabha polls, it is keeping its ‘channel of communication’ open with a section of NPP leaders, a top Congress leader added on condition of anonymity.

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