Unfolding political developments
Game of numbers
With three MLAs resigning, the BJP now has 18 MLAs in the House of 60, having won 21 seats in the 2017 Assembly elections. Add the four NPF MLAs and the lone MLA from the LJP and the front led by the BJP now stands at 23 MLAs. This much is simple and straight to the point. Similarly simple but with a little rider is the position of the Congress. The said party won 28 seats in the Assembly elections of 2017, but today its strength may be said to effectively stand at 20, that is minus the one who has been disqualified by the Speaker Tribunal and the 7 other MLAs against whom disqualification proceedings have been initiated. It just does not end here for the 7 are still very much MLAs as they are yet to be disqualified, but have been banned from entering the premises of the Assembly till June 19, the day the elections for the lone Rajya Sabha seat will be held. This is where lies the first acid test for the BJP led Government. With the four NPP MLAs withdrawing support to the BJP led Government and throwing their weight behind the Congress followed by the lone Independent MLA from Jiribam Assembly Constituency and the lone AITC MLA from Thanga AC and the front led by the Congress today has an effective strength of 26 MLAs. Not yet clear when the Governor will convene a special Assembly session to test the strength of the BJP led Government, but the Congress is understood to have already submitted an application asking that the House be summoned for the no-confidence motion. Significant to note that in its effort to add substance, the Secular Progressive Front (SPF), the erstwhile coalition Government led by the Congress, has been given a fresh breath of life and the petition to the Governor was submitted under the name of the SPF. Clear that the Congress wants to convey the point that it is not alone in seeking a no-trust motion.
Things certainly moved fast in the evening of June 17, with news starting to trickle in that something big was in the offing. In no time, the resignation of the three BJP MLAs from the primary membership of the party as well as from the Assembly, the resignation of the four NPP MLAs from the Council of Ministers went viral on the social media, such as WhatsApp, Facebook etc and the media conference held later all came in quick succession. To those who work in the media houses, it meant receiving endless calls from friends, acquaintances, family members and others to know the political development. In no time, the interest of the people shifted from the latest report on the COVID-19 situation in Manipur, the preparations made ahead of the June 18 observation, the admission process for the young students who have just passed the Class X examinations conducted by the Board of Secondary Education, Manipur to the current political situation. Is the BJP Government going to fall ? Will the Chief Minister be replaced ? etc etc, were all questions that bombarded the newspaper office late in the evening. A few conscientious citizens of the land did want to know the opinion of the newspaper on whether the new political development was in the interest of the land or in the interest of some politicians and political parties. This question has merit given the fact that the proposed delimitation exercise is breathing down the neck of everyone plus the fact that the political dialogue between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) is reportedly at its final stage. The latter poser is important in the face of the fact that it came just one day ahead of June 18 but all the points mentioned here are interlinked.