The unfolding political development in Manipur comes as a surprise to many who thought that the N Biren Singh-led government was infallible. However, for many party insiders and watchers, this development did not happen overnight as is being chewed in by all. Three BJP MLAs who left the party and joined the Congress very well knew their positions in the entire game being played out now. As for the four National People's Party (NPP) MLAs, an independent MLA and TMC MLA who withdrew support to the BJP-led government in the state have evidently and skillfully played their roles to the best of advantage.
The visibly cheerful Congress leaders knew the chinks in the armour of the N Biren Singh led government. They are not new to such political machinations and just as the state BJP leaders are. Apart from machivilliansim of different kinds, what one can see and watch is rather the vulnerability of piecing a coalition based on overnight catapulting of willing candidates to the drama. Congress leaders in the state are now banking on the hope of installing a coalition government that eventually replaces the incumbent BJP led rule in Manipur.
If one recalls correctly, the BJP won by 21 seats in the 11th Assembly election, whereas Congress party got 28 seats, four went to Naga People's Front, four to NPP and one to TMC among others. And how the BJP under the skill and political craftsmanship of central leaders managed to pull the rabbits out of the hat is now history and everyone knows it. Even if one finds it difficult to predict the future, the possible scenario includes a quick fix Congress-led coalition taking over a supposedly firm and tight rule under N Biren Singh. How the BJP, armed with shrewd central masters overcome the crisis now depends on how they turn the tide to their best advantage.
As of now, there are reports that all the MLAs who had resigned and withdrawn their support from the N Biren Singh-led BJP government had a warm reception at an unidentified camp by Congress leaders led by former chief minister O Ibobi Singh and aided by Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee President M Okendro Singh, former MPCC presidents, G Gaikhangam, TN Haokip and Congress MLAs.
O Ibobi as the Congress Legislature Party leader will be definitely demanding or must have by now demanded a floor test and stake claim to form the government. However, there are certain temporal constraints in the immediate aftermath of the fast paced drama since Wednesday. The biennial election of Members of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) is due to be held on June 19 and this could give a breather to the BJP led coalition to adopt possible new strategy to its advantage or the same election could also ruin reputations of BJP if its Rajya Sabha candidate fails to emerge victorious. Which side the wind blows now depends on how the Governor who is also a political appointee takes a decision – based on the advice of the coterie or party bigwigs. Though the Congress seems to be on a more advantaged position, no one seems to know the fate of Manipur. There could be a skewed rationalization of the unfolding drama that could give enough elbow room for the imposition of central/president’s rule depending on how one defines a political crisis.
Without speculation, it is now good enough to say that the BJP-led coalition government of Manipur is in troubled waters as the three BJP MLAs resigned from the party to join the Congress and six MLAs withdrew their support. As the NPP MLAs still nurture wounded pride for having suffered mistreatment, the current political churnings will be watched like a skillfully crafter thriller flick. Stay tuned and watch the plots.