CM Biren does it again
Interestingly, BJP leader Ram Madhav tweeted that ‘BJP won 4 out of 5 seats, 5th seat won by Independent candidate supporting BJP government’ which speaks a lot. Antas Khan is known to be very close to Ram Madhav and Rajat Sethi, advisor to Manipur CM.
It was indeed a sad day for Al-haj Abdul Nasir, who ‘sacrificed’ his seat to save the BJP led coalition government. The former minister, who was elected from Lilong assembly constituency in 2017 on a Congress ticket, defied the party whip and absented himself along with five others from the recent assembly session which voted on a trust motion of the Biren Singh led government. While the other five Congress MLAs went and joined BJP in New Delhi, Abdul Nasir registered a new party and contested as an Independent MLA supported by BJP. Somehow, he was reluctant to join and fight on a BJP ticket, for obvious reasons. Did his reluctance to openly identify himself with BJP cost him the victory lap in the just concluded by-election? Or is it the anti-incumbency factor? Only time will tell.
During the election campaign, there were several incidents of mob fury against the former MLA and many a times, the police had to bail him out.
Abdul Nasir also has a notorious reputation for manhandling and using abusive words against people including bureaucrats while he was the Agriculture Minister during Okram Ibobi’s time. In 2012, Nasir allegedly assaulted a member of the youth congress in full public view at the venue of Manipur Sangai festival in Imphal. The second instance took place in 2014, when the MLA allegedly assaulted a Tribal officer of the Education Department sparking a huge controversy. Despite demands for his resignation, no action was taken against him. In 2018, he was forced to tender a public apology in front of a crowd for using racial and abusive words targeting a particular community at Nagaram.
Despite his track record, Chief Minister N Biren Singh and central party leaders openly campaigned for him as promised. But, he was bested by his rival Y Antas Khan, a former BJP loyalist and BJP candidate by more than 3000 votes. In the 2017 assembly elections, Abdul Nasir had won after defeating his nearest rival and Independent candidate Antas Khan by a little over 1000 votes. Antas Khan was devastated when BJP officially supported Nasir Khan in the by-election. But now, he has his sweet revenge. Yet, a question remains as to whether he will support the BJP government or not.
Going by current political logic, he has to support BJP for 2022 elections are not very far away. Interestingly, BJP leader Ram Madhav tweeted that ‘BJP won 4 out of 5 seats, 5 th seat won by Independent candidate supporting BJP government’ which speaks a lot. Antas Khan is known to be very close to Ram Madhav and Rajat Sethi, advisor to Manipur CM.
Well, this is of the war between the Khans of Lilong. In this by-election also, Chief Minister N Biren Singh has done it again after the success in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha elections recently. Or say, he has passed the litmus test of successful leadership. After the resignation of three party MLAs as engineered by the wily Okram Ibobi, BJP was reduced to 18 from the original 21. With the results of by-elections and a favourable High Court verdict, the BJP tally has now increased to 23 in a house of 60 with an effective strength of 53. The Lilong representative Antas Khan is bound to support the government like the other Independent MLA from Jiribam. Now that the Chief Minister has a sizeable number and full backing from the top leadership of BJP, his political stature in the party has greatly increased. While internal dissension has simmered down in the past months, the bargaining capacity of its allies like NPP and NPF would be reduced. All he has to do is to juggle the support of the junior partners and the Independents or play them against each other.