Updated 31 Jan 2022, 3:06 am
National Peoples’ Party (NPP) leader and Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Yumnam Joykumar does not even bat an eyelid when he said that the NPP will welcome those rejected by the BJP. There is no surprise here, as he had himself switched over to NPP when he was denied the BJP ticket in the 2017 assembly elections. Many other parties also open shop lying in wait for intending candidates rejected by either the ruling party or major parties. But, they have never been so open about it.
Although Congress was the single largest party having won 28 seats in a house of 60 in the 2017 elections, BJP was so desperate to form the new government that it had to bow down to the demands of NPP. It got away with the post of Deputy CM and ministership for its three other MLAs along with plump portfolios. BJP had to contend with only five ministers, including the chief minister and the spillover effect led to internal dissension and many other problems for the party.
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The pressure became so acute that the chief minister was forced to appoint 12 Parliamentary Secretaries from among the BJP MLAs and allies, and it ultimately became a legal headache of sorts.
All through the term, BJP had an uneasy relationship with its ally NPP. There was an occasion when the chief minister had to clip the wings of his deputy Y Joykumar by taking away major portfolios, including Finance from him. In another instance just before the Rajya Sabha elections, NPP switched sides and aligned itself with the opposition Congress. However, Chief Minister N Biren Singh with his political adroitness managed a win for the BJP candidate Maharaj Leishemba Sanajaoba in the Rajya Sabha. Later, when NPP came back to the alliance two of its ministers were axed.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, NPP foisted its own candidate Thangminlien Kipgen in Outer Manipur constituency, while supporting the CPI candidate Dr M Nara in the Inner Manipur constituency. Just before the recently concluded Rajya Sabha elections, the four NPP MLAs withdrew their support from the coalition government and extended their support to the Congress candidate, leading to a high voltage political drama which the Chief Minister N Biren Singh ultimately won with his ingenuity.
Only after direct intervention of Conrad Sangma and NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma, and shuttling back and forth from Imphal to Delhi, did they come back to the ruling coalition.
But, this time also, NPP managed to extract their pound of flesh yet again, much to the disappointment of MLAs aspiring for ministerial berths. In the 2020 assembly by-elections also, NPP fielded its own candidate in Wangoi constituency who lost to the Congress turncoat and BJP candidate Oinam Lukhoi by a narrow margin.
On 5 January 2013, Sangma re-launched the National People’s Party (NPP), which has its origins in the hills of Manipur, at the national level. NPP managed to win two seats in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly in the 2013 election. After Purno Sangma’s death in 2016, his son Conrad was anointed the party chief. Now, NPP is going alone in the 2022 elections in Manipur and it has openly declared its intent to play kingmaker again. It says, it will choose sides according to the results of the 2022 elections be it with the BJP or the Congress party. It had conveniently chosen to forget that the BJP had successfully poached one of its ministers Letpao Haokip while clearing the way for the BJP candidate in Chandel constituency, SS Olish.
First published:30 Jan 2022, 6:45 pm
NPPBJP ticketN Biren singhmanipur assembly electionsY Joykumar singh