N Biren Singh resigns, all eyes on CM’s Chair

In the departing term of the BJP-led coalition government, the state witnessed regular internal challenges that BJP lawmakers confronted time and again. With no BJP top guns having the audacity to pronounce the chief ministerial candidate before the election, even though a handful of leaders lauded former Chief Minister N Biren Singh for various initiatives, a similar discord has gained acceleration.

Adhering to the formality, Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Friday tendered his resignation from his post a day after winning the Heingang constituency, defeating his lone rival – Congress nominee Pangeijam Saratchandra – by a significant margin of 18,271 votes. Governor La Ganesan, who received the resignation letter, asked him to be the caretaker Chief Minister till the finalization of the Chief Minister’s post by national leaders of the saffron party.

Multiple media reports and political experts point to Thongam Biswajit Singh, who won the Thongju seat as the top contender of the CM’s chair apart from Mr. Biren. And former state Congress chief Govindas Konthoujam and Assembly speaker Yumnam Khemchand Singh are also rumored to be vying for the top post.

State BJP president A. Sharda Devi, on multiple occasions post results announcement, maintained that the BJP has a parliamentary board that will decide the next Chief Minister after due consultation with State unit leadership. She stated that the party would be ready once the governor invited the party to form the next government.

Buoyant about BJP winning 32 seats, N Biren Singh on March 10 said the Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s National People’s Party would not be part of a coalition government, while he maintained that Naga People’s Front would remain to be a part of the new government formation. National People’s Party has been an ally of BJP in the previous government, with NPP’s Yumnam Joykumar as Deputy Chief Minister.

“From the very beginning, we expected a majority. BJP is going to form its own government, and one main thing is the mantra of PM’s sabka vishwas, sabka vishwas, sabka prayas. Don’t think National People’s Party will be part of the coalition, but Naga Peoples Front will not harm the coalition dharma,” Mr. Biren said. Top BJP campaigners, including the Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, ruled out a coalition with NPP, apart from Manipur CM, during the last leg of election campaigns.

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. But, Congress leader and former three-time deputy chief minister Gaikhangam lost the Nungba seat to BJP candidate D Gangmei by 3 786 votes.

Even incumbent 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. While the NPP bagged seven seats while the Janata Dal (United) and Naga People’s Front (NPF) won six and five seats, respectively.

Former BJP ticket aspirant Nishikant Sapam who won the Keishamthong constituency as an independent candidate, extended his support to the Bharatiya Janata Party. He submitted a letter to Governor La Ganesan and met state party chief A Sharda Devi and N Biren Singh to hand over the letter copies on Friday.

Moreover, the Saitu seat winner independent candidate, Haokholet Kipgen, has also decided to support the BJP. So, after all the equations, the National People’s Party’s seven and Congress’ five seats will be in the Opposition if the BJP, as said by its leaders, boot out NPP from the coalition. And for the top post, BJP’s CM contenders appear to have started establishing separate bases by roping in MLA-elects to prove support to BJP’s big guns.