Barrage of allegations and uncertainty

Whatever may be the outcome of the unfolding political drama in Manipur, it is clear that all is not well within the current ruling coalition led by the BJP.

The N Biren Singh-led government is doing exactly what was expected–turn the tide of political uncertainty in his favour with a master stroke by his faithful—the assembly speaker Y Khemchand. The speaker advanced proceedings on disqualification of seven Congress MLAs, who crossed over to the BJP to June 18 from June 22 and made the BJP candidate Leishemba Sanajaoba win the lone Rajya Sabha seat from the state. While a lot can be written on how the speaker managed to pull the rabbits out of the hat, observers are still expecting a twist in the political drama.

On June 18, the Congress Legislative Party leader Okram Ibobi Singh met the governor Najma Heptulla and requested her to call for a special assembly session soon to pass no confidence motion against the BJP-led government headed by N Biren Singh. However, the chief minister on June 19 struck a defiant note and remarked “today we’ve seen who got the majority”. Despite the temporal sense of victory at the moment, it is also high time for the chief minister to logically ward off the barrage of allegations leveled against his style of functioning by his own former party members who have joined the Congress and also the BJP led coalition’s former partner National People’s Party (NPP).  

On June 20, former deputy chief minister and National People's Party (NPP) leader Y Joykumar alleged that since the formation of the BJP led coalition government, N Biren Singh has been opposing the naming of a common front with a common minimum programme. Under the BJP-led government, the state is under “Gundaraj” and those who raised their voices were put behind bars, alleged Joykumar. He went on to state that he was never informed about the financial status of the state even when he was the finance minister of the state. 

His party colleague and former minister of health and family welfare L Jayantakumar Singh, while asserting the decision to stay away from the N Biren Singh-led government, stated that there was “no room for negotiation, no room for retreat and no room for surrender”. He too took on the chief minister and stated that it was not only his party legislators who were disenchanted with the current government but also that the BJP MLAs were not satisfied with the performance of the government. Jayantakumar went on to allege that the health minister was not invited to frame state level policies with regard to COVID-19 pandemic in recent times. “At no point of time, the health minister is invited or consulted” he said and stated that it is due to such high handed policy of N Biren Singh, his party had decided to leave the coalition. “Our action is nothing but the reaction to your action, ” he stated and alleged that even when he was the health minister, he was not allowed to enter the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Sciences (JNIMS) as the institute’s society chairman was the chief minister himself.

Moreover, former BJP legislator Samuel Jendai also took on the chief minister in a video message. The former BJP MLA recalled that N Biren Singh was not the first choice of the elected BJP representatives after the last Assembly election. His candidature as the chief minister was “bulldozed” by BJP central leadership and consequently the BJP legislators were not happy about it. He also stridently questioned the claims of development under the BJP-led regime and said that the talks of “go to the village” or “go to the hills” were just government prompted and media generated slogans with no budgetary plans. Whatever may be the outcome of the unfolding political drama in the state, it is clear that all is not well within the current ruling coalition led by the BJP. N Biren Singh may continue to dismiss such allegations as mere imaginations of his former colleagues. As of now, the current dispensation is here to stay even if no one knows how long.

First Published:June 22, 2020, 1:11 a.m.