Both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress are likely to have a straight fight on May 25 for the lone Raja Sabha seat from Manipur. The Bharatiya Janata Party, with the support of the coalition partners, has fielded Khetrimayum Bhabananda, the state BJP President; while the Congress has fielded Elangbam Dijwamani. Chief Minister N. Biren Singh held a meeting with the leaders of the coalition partners on Sunday night on the forthcoming elections.
He reportedly told them to ensure that the party candidate is elected to the upper house of parliament. Sources told IANS that all of them assured him of support to Bhabananda.
In the March assembly elections, the Congress bagged 28 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party 21 while the splinter parties shared the remaining eleven seats the 60-member Manipur assembly.
The BJP joined hands with some smaller parties and staked claim to form the government with 31 members. Later, six Congress legislators also crossed the floor.
T. Shyamkumar was the first to join the BJP even before the formation of the government. He was one of the ministers sworn in on March 15.
Though an expulsion notice was issued against him, it was later revoked. Expulsion notices and petitions to disqualify the five Congress legislators who crossed the floor are yet to be issued.
Party sources said that it was a tactical move with an eye to the Rajya Sabha election.
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The Rajya Sabha bypoll was necessitated after the death of sitting member Haji Abdul Salam.
The demand by the people of eight assembly segments to elect one candidate from any of the segments has fallen on deaf ears.
People of the eight assembly constituencies have been launching agitations demanding election of one person from among them. Y. Thambal, an activist, told IANS that this is to compensate the people.
Thambal said: “The segments are included in the reserved Lok Sabha seat, which means that they can elect a tribal candidate but they cannot contest the seat. This is a negation of democracy.”
To appease the agitating people, the erstwhile Congress government had elected Salam to the Rajya sabha since he is from one of the segments.
It was a foregone conclusion that the BJP would field and elect its state unit President as the next Rajya Sabha member from the state.