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Amidst high drama, BJP wins Manipur RS seat, allies in Meghalaya, Mizoram (Roundup)

Imphal/Shillong/Aizawl, June 20 (IANS) Less than 72 hours after being reduced to a minority, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party clinched the Manipur Rajya Sabha seat while MNF in Mizoram and Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) won their states’ sole Rajya Sabha seats.

After a day-long high voltage hectic political rivalry in which the key opposition Congress approached the Manipur High Court and met Governor Najma Heptulla for forming the government, BJP candidate Maharaja Sanajaoba Leishemba won the state’s Rajya Sabha seat, defeating the Congress nominee, Tongbram Mangibabu Singh by a margin of only four votes.

Out of the 52 valid votes cast, the BJP candidate managed 28 votes while Congress aspirant got 24 votes.

The Congress has also urged the Election Commission (EC) to reject two votes cast during Rajya Sabha polls as the party alleged that two MLAs including the Speaker showed their votes to agents present during the polls and the party has also produced a video to back its claim.

However, the EC, after scrutinising the records, allowed the state Assembly Secretary to declare the results around 9 p.m.

The latest political development in BJP ruled Manipur come two days after the three-year-old BJP-led coalition government headed by Chief Minister N. Biren Singh was on Wednesday night pushed into a political crisis as three BJP MLAs quit the party and joined the Congress and six legislators – four of NPP, one Trinamool Congress (TMC) and an independent — withdrew support.

However, Assembly Speaker Yumnam Khemchand Singh played a key role on Friday by letting four of the seven disgruntled Congress MLAs, who were facing disqualification, vote despite a Manipur High Court on Thursday ordered to “restrain” their (all seven) entry into the Assembly premises, where the RS polling was held.

The Speaker, meanwhile, disqualified the other three along with T. Robindro, the lone TMC MLA who had switched over to the Congress camp.

The Congress had taken legal action against the seven for “defecting” to the BJP in 2017, soon after Chief Minister N. Biren Singh formed the BJP-led coalition government.

In the 2017 Assembly elections, Congress became the single largest party securing 28 seats, but the BJP, which managed 21 seats, stitched a coalition government with the support of four NPP members, four Naga People’s Front MLAs, the lone TMC MLA and an Independent member. Seven Congress MLAs had also joined the BJP.

Demanding disqualification of the seven MLAs, the Congress in January this year had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, which had asked the Assembly Speaker to take appropriate steps.

When political squabbling was in climax in Manipur throughout the day, the candidates of the ruling parties in Meghalaya and Mizoram comfortably and smoothly won the solitary seats in the two northeastern states.

In Meghalaya, Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) sponsored National People’s Party (NPP) candidate W. R. Kharlukhi, who secured 39 votes, won the election beating Kennedy Khyriem, who bagged 19 votes while one member remained abstained from voting and one vote was rejected.

In Mizoram, in a triangular contest, ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) candidate K. Vanlalvena won by securing 27 votes, defeating Zoram Peoples Movement candidate B. Lalchhanzova (7 votes) and Congress nominee Lallianchhunga (5 votes).

In the 40-member Mizoram assembly, lone BJP MLA Buddha Dhan Chakma abstained from voting.

Meanwhile, ruling BJP’s nominee Nabam Rebia had on June 12 won the lone Rajya Sabha seat in Arunachal Pradesh unopposed.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

–IANS

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