Even though, the Congress emerged as the single largest party in Manipur assembly elections, yet BJP is the real winner. Even if the Congress, that won 27 seats — short of the half-way mark of 31 in the 60-member Assembly — manages to form the government, the BJP’s tally of 21 indicates the party has established a strong presence that will fare it well, starting with the 2019 general elections. In the outgoing Assembly, the BJP had only two MLAs, both of whom had crossed over to the party after winning on Trinamool Congress tickets.
Even in terms of the vote shares BJP won the largest votes. BJP leaders had earlier told The Indian Express that the party would look to form the government if it crosses the 20-seat mark, and it could now find willing allies among the 10 winners of smaller parties. “What needs to be seen is whether the BJP will sit back and relax and let a weak Congress form the government, and form a stronger government later, or whether it will form a not-so-strong coalition government with a strong Congress as the opposition,” a BJP leader said. Counting on two seats, Sugnu and Kakching, was on till late evening. Result in another has been withheld for now.
While both Sugnu and Kakching are considered Congress strongholds, after two rounds of counting, no clear winners had emerged.
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The results indicated a keener contest than any the state has seen. The Congress had won 42 seats in 2012, taking its tally further up to 51 after the MSCP’s five and the TMC’s four MLAs had joined it.
Saturday’s results indicate a dramatic shift in Manipur’s political landscape. The BJP’s performance was boosted by its better spending power, a hard-hitting campaign led by central leaders, who camped in Imphal for months, and the promise of development. The BJP had upgraded its office in Imphal and appointed new office-bearers.
BJP spokesperson N Biren, who was among the winners, said, “People in the Northeast usually vote for the party that rules at the Centre. In 2012, it was the UPA.” That the BJP was making strides in Manipur was evident even in 2014, though it didn’t seem enough to propel it towards power. In the panchayat and municipality elections over the past two years, it had given the Congress a tough fight.