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Amid turmoil, BJP wins lone RS seat in Manipur

Correspondent IMPHAL, Jun 19 | Publish Date: 6/19/2020 12:51:48 PM IST

Dealing a big blow to the plan of the newly formed Secular Progressive  Front (SPF) of winning the lone Rajya Sabha seat, the BJP candidate and Manipur’s titular king RK Sanajaoba won seat in the poll held Friday even as and counting of votes was delayed beyond the scheduled 5 p.m.

The BJP candidate Sanajaoba got 28 votes while his rival Congress candidate T Mangibabu got 24 votes out of the total 52 votes cast. 

Voting commenced at 9 am and ended at 4 p.m. under tight security at the Legislative Assembly complex against the backdrop of political turmoil when nine MLAs, including four cabinet ministers belonging to NPP, withdrew support to the BJP-led coalition government.  The counting of votes was delayed after polling agents of NPP lodged a complaint with returning officer (RO) alleging violation of secrecy of voting by BJP Speaker Khemchand Singh and Ngamthang Haokip of Congress. 

However the RO dismissed the allegations as baseless.

“I was present during the poll process and have reconfirmed the allegation through the video recording of the poll process. I’m convinced that there is no violation of the secrecy and that the complaint is baseless. The complaint is therefore disposed of,” the RO’s order stated and paved the way for counting of votes.

The counting was held around 8 pm and results declared at around 8.30 pm.

Sources said the complaint was disposed of with the knowledge of Election Commission of India (ECI), where the complaint was forwarded to.

Interestingly, four of the seven Congress MLAs facing disqualification were allowed to cast votes. 

The High Court of Manipur had restrained the seven MLAs facing disqualification from entering the Assembly premises, pending the final decision by the speaker’s tribunal.

However, the speaker pronounced the judgment of the pending disqualification ahead of the poll by disqualifying three MLAs who returned to the Congress, despite another order of the high court on Thursday restraining him from passing any ruling on the case till Friday. In order to overcome this , the speaker advanced the hearing to Thursday. Earlier, he had listed the hearing for June 22.

Another interesting development ahead of the poll was the disqualification of the lone Trinamool Congress MLA who withdrew support to the BJP-led coalition government and was prevented from casting his vote. 

Till Thursday, the effective strength of the Assembly was 49 as one MLA had already been disqualified and seven barred from entering the Assembly premises by the high court, while three BJP MLAs defected to Congress after having resigned as MLAs.

SPF meets governor

A delegation of Congress-led newly-formed Secular Progressive Front (SPF) led by its leader O Ibobi Singh met governor Najma Heptulla at Raj Bhavan at around 5 pm.

Besides Ibobi and some Congress leaders, the delegation comprised NPP State president Thangminlien Kipgen and party’s legislative leader Y Joykumar.

The meeting lasted for about an hour. However, none of the delegates disclosed the outcome of the meeting to reporters waiting outside Raj Bhavan.

Earlier, SPF had written a letter to the governor urging her to summon a special session of the Assembly to take up no confidence motion against the BJP-led coalition government.

NDA gains 4 seats in NE 

Agencies: BJP and its allies grabbed the four Rajya Sabha seats in the four North Eastern states and increased its tally to eight out of a total of 13 seats in the region.

Except for Manipur, where BJP had to fight off a fierce political battle against Congress before its ‘royal’ candidate, the titular king of Manipur, Leishemba Sanajaoba emerged victorious, its two partners had easy victories in each seat in Meghalaya and Mizoram where simultaneous elections were held on Friday. BJP won the lone Arunachal Pradesh seat without any contest.

But, the elections had varied characteristics in Mizoram, Meghalaya and Mizoram. If BJP was pitted against ally NPP in Manipur, they were together in Meghalaya and in Mizoram, BJP lone MLA abstained from voting either for or against ally MNF.

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