In the 2017 Manipur assembly elections, Congress had emerged as the single largest party with 28 MLAs but fell short by 3 seats to claim majority and form the government in the 60-member Manipur assembly. The BJP, which came second with 21 seats managed to cobble up a coalition with support from NPP (4), NPF (4), TMC (1), LJP (1) and a lone Independent MLA.
In March this year, after a protracted legal battle, Congress lawmaker Shyamkumar was disqualified by Manipur assembly Speaker Yumnam Khemchand. Elected on a Congress ticket from the Andro constituency, Shyamkumar had defected to the BJP even before he was sworn in as an MLA. He was subsequently sworn in as a minister in the Biren Singh-led BJP government.
The Speaker disqualified Shyamkumar on the grounds of defection following a Supreme Court order which barred his entry into the Manipur Assembly complex thus reducing the effective strength of the assembly to 59.
The Manipur High Court last week barred another 7 Congress MLAs from entering the state assembly. The seven MLAs, Sanasam Bira, Ginsuanhau, Oinam Lukhoi, Ngamthang Haokip, Yengkhom Surchandra, Kshetrimayum Bira and Paonam Brojen had also defected to join the BJP.
With 3 of its MLAs joining the Congress, BJP now has 18 lawmakers in the House. The BJP-led coalition can now claim the support of 23 lawmakers with alliance partner NPF’s 4 and LJP’s 1 seat in their tally.
In case of a floor test, if 8 Congress lawmakers remain barred, the effective strength of the house comes down to 52 with the new magic number at 27. Even with the uncertainty over seven Congress MLAs, the party has a slight advantage with 26 lawmakers on its side with 4 NPP, 1 TMC and 1 Independent lawmaker pledging their support to the coalition.