BJP sweeps Manipur with 32 seats; celebration erupts at Thambal Sanglen

Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and members celebrate the sweeping victory with fireworks and slogans at BJP state headquarter, Thambal Shanglen, in Imphal. Tehelka photo by Aribam Bishwajit

Celebration erupted at BJP Manipur head-office, Thambal Shanglen, and various parts of the state as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) clinched 32 seats in the 60-seat Assembly as the Election Commission of India on Thursday declared the results of the 12th Manipur Assembly Elections, which were held in two phases on February 28 and March 5, respectively.

Incumbent CM and BJP candidate Biren Singh registered a thumping victory from his home turf, Heingang, defeating his rival – Congress candidate Pangeijam Saratchandra – by a massive margin of 18,271 votes.

As the BJP swept the majority of the seats, Mr. Biren, in a tweet, wrote: “The historic victory that we have achieved today is a testament of the people’s faith in the dynamic leadership of Hon’ble PM @narendramodi Ji and citizen-centric governance.” My heartiest congratulations to all the Karyakartas of BJP, Biren added.

The saffron party indicated keeping Naga People’s Front but ruled out a coalition with Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s National Peoples’ Party.

Applauding the victory of the saffron party, Union Home Minister Amit Shah extended appreciation to the people of Manipur and hailed the chief minister for the landslide triumph.

The Union Minister, in a tweet, penned: “PM  Narendra Modi Ji’s resolve for a prosperous North-East has earned him a special place in the hearts of the people of our NE region; this victory is a testament to the same.”

In an unexpected result, the Congress that managed to get 28 seats in the 2017 election won only five assembly constituencies. Nonetheless, the former three-time chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and his son O Surjakumar managed to pull off victories from Thoubal and Khangabo constituencies, respectively. Unfortunately, though, former three-time deputy chief minister Gaikhangam lost the Nungba seat to BJP candidate D Gangmei by a margin of 3 786 votes.

Deputy Chief Minister and National Peoples’ Party (NPP) nominee Yumnam Joykumar lost from the Uripok seat as the BJP contender Raghumani Singh beat him by a margin of 7147 votes. Meanwhile, the NPP bagged seven seats while the Janata Dal (United) and Naga People’s Front (NPF) won six and seven seats, respectively.

Former DGP LM Khaute, who joined the Janata Dal (United) by taking voluntary retirement just a few months away from the election, won from Churachandpur seat, defeating his nearest BJP contender V Hangkhanlian by a margin of 624 votes.

Now that the election result is already out, the question arises: Who will be the next chief minister of Manipur? Though the state BJP leaders are reluctant to respond to this question, people also see Thongam Biswajit as a probable face for the top post apart from the incumbent Mr. Biren. Given the internal challenges the BJP lawmakers confronted in the first three years of the last term, an equivalent discord is expected to gain momentum very soon.