MLA joins the Congress after fleeing the BJP in Manipurtext_fields
In election-bound Manipur, the exodus from the ruling BJP continued as former MLA P. Saratchandra and retired IAS officer N. Biren joined the Congress on Monday, along with former PSU chief N. Joykumar.
All three leaders were welcomed at a function by the Congress' election coordinator for Manipur, Bhakta Charan Das, and former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.
Earlier this month, two other senior BJP leaders, Lourembam Sanjoy Singh and Thangjam Arunkumar, joined the National People's Party (NPP), the BJP's junior ally.
The Janata Dal-United has welcomed Thangjam Arunkumar and decorated police officer-turned-firebrand leader Thounaojam Brinda into their ranks.
As far as the BJP deserters for the upcoming Assembly elections, which are slated to take place on February 27 and March 3, the Congress, the NPP, and the JD-U are likely to nominate them all.
Following the recent joining of several influential leaders to the JD-U, the party suddenly became more relevant in Manipur politics. The party recently acquired Congress legislator K. Joykishan and former Minister Abdul Nasir.
Ticket aspirants of the ruling BJP and their supporters, who burnt effigies of Central and state party leaders, torched party flags, banners and posters and allegedly forced the closure of few party offices and in different parts of Manipur as protests erupted on Sunday after the party announced all 60 candidates, continued their protests on Monday.
Despite this, BJP leaders in Imphal denied large-scale protests in the city. They said there were some "minor grievances expressed by some party members," but they were also concerned after several party leaders, including a sitting MLA, quit the party.
N. Biren Singh met with the party candidates on Monday accompanied by senior leaders to discuss election strategy.
Apprehending possible protests after the announcement of the names of the candidates, the police authorities have tightened the security and deployed additional force for about a week in the state BJP headquarters in Imphal and few other districts preventing the large-scale attacks and incidents.
Party state president A. Sharda Devi, ministers, and legislators have been given heightened security.
At least 10 of the 16 former Congress leaders who joined the BJP in recent years were given tickets as the ruling party announced to contest in all 60 seats without any alliance with any party.
Meanwhile, Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Y. Joykumar Singh, who is also the NPP Vice President, said that his party would try to nominate those leaders rejected by the BJP for the coming election.
With four MLAs, the NPP has been an ally of the BJP-led government since 2017.
The NPP, headed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, however, announced to contest the elections on its own this time and would field candidates in at least 40 seats.
Another ally of the BJP-led government, the Naga People's Front (NPF), is still undecided on a pre-poll alliance in Manipur.
The BJP, which had bagged 21 seats in 2017, came to power for the first time, stitching together a coalition government with the support of four NPP MLAs, four NPF members, the lone Trinamool Congress MLA and an Independent member, though the Congress, which was governing the state for the last 15 years, emerged as the single-largest party with 28 seats.
The Congress, which released its first list of 40 candidates, last week announced a pre-poll alliance with four Left parties and Janata Dal-Secular.