Congress issues whip for no-trust vote in Manipur, but all’s not well

Manipur Pradesh Congress president M Okendro said the party was not satisfied with the reply given by two MLAs RK Imo Singh and Okram Henry Singh to the show-cause notices served to them

24 Congress MLAs had been issued a whip to attend the one-day Assembly session on August 10 and vote in support of the no- confidence motion. File photo: PTI

Kolkata: A conflict-ridden Congress party in Manipur has decided to initiate a disciplinary proceeding against two of its legislators even as Chief Minister N. Biren Singh has decided to seek a confidence vote on Monday (August 10).

After the Chief Minister’s latest move, the Manipur assembly secretariat on Saturday late evening informed that the no-confidence motion moved by the Congress earlier had been rejected. Instead, the Chief Minister would now move a confidence motion, secretariat sources said.

The state’s Pradesh Congress president M Okendro said the party was not satisfied with the reply given by two MLAs RK Imo Singh and Okram Henry Singh to the show-cause notices served to them for voting in favour of BJP’s Rajya Sabha candidate Leishemba Sanajaoba in June defying the party whip.

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“We are forwarding their case to the party disciplinary action committee for further steps because their explanations were not satisfactory,” Okendro told The Federal over phone from Imphal.

The two legislators were among the 24 Congress MLAs who had been issued a whip to attend the one-day Assembly session on August 10 and vote in support of the no- confidence motion for which the party has given a notice to speaker Yumnam Khemchand Singh.

It’s not yet clear whether the Speaker will allow the motion even though both the opposition Congress and the ruling BJP have issued whip to their respective legislators.

“We will be able to know it (whether the motion will be accepted) only on Monday,” the PCC president said.

“All the members are to attend the 11th session of the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly convening from 11 am on 10th August till the end of the session and remain in the House during discussion and voting. All the members are directed to vote in line with the decision made by the Congress Legislature Party led by Shri O Ibobi Singh,” read the whip issued by party’s chief whip Govindas Konthoujam.

The party might issue a fresh whip asking its legislators to oppose the confidence motion to be moved by the chief minister in view of the latest development.

The BJP has also issued a separate whip to its MLAs. But the BJP-led coalition is yet to take a decision on issuing a common whip. “No decision has been taken yet on the matter,” said chief whip of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), P Sharatchandra.

The coalition partners also did not issue any separate whip to their legislators although the fate of the motion, if taken up, would depend on their MLAs.

Among the NDA constituents in the state, the BJP has 18 MLAs, the National People’s Party (NPP) has 4, the Naga People’s Front 4 and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Independent have one each. Three BJP legislators had resigned from the assembly and joined Congress before the June 19 Rajya Sabha elections.

The Congress had won 28 seats in the 2017 assembly elections. Now it has 24 MLAs in its kitty following the disqualification of its three legislators by the Speaker ahead of voting for the RS elections. Another Congress MLA Th Shyamkumar had earlier resigned from the assembly.

The N. Biren Singh government in Manipur survived a rebellion in June when three BJP legislators had joined the Congress and NPP and TMC MLAs also pushed for a leadership change. Amidst the rebellion, the BJP, however, managed to get its RS candidate elected after a high political drama that saw two Congress legislators cross-voting and three got disqualified. The NPP MLAs, however, voted for the Congress candidate while the TMC MLA was not allowed to vote and the Independent abstained.

The sulking partners, after flown to New Delhi for a parley with the BJP’s central leadership, rejoined the coalition, but there is speculation that all is not well within the ruling conglomerate. The Congress is trying to exploit the chinks.

BJP sources, however, said even if the voting takes place on Monday, just like in the RS elections, several Congress legislators will back the government.

Okendro, however, tried to sound confident. “Just wait and watch…,” he said optimistically.

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