A new BJP government is in place in Manipur. And even before it can prove its majority in the Manipur assembly slated for tomorrow, it has added a feather in its cap, by convincing the United Naga Council (UNC), the body representing the Naga tribal population of Manipur, to lift the economic blockade from midnight that has badly hit the state with supply of essential commodities choked.
During the campaign phase, prime minister Narendra Modi had promised that a BJP government in Manipur will end the blockade within 48 hours of assuming the office. Blaming the state’s Congress government for blockade and governance deficit, Modi had promised to develop the state in 15 months, something that he said the Congress could not do even in 15 years of its rule since 2002.
After taking oath, state’s new chief minister, it seems, took the matter on a priority basis. After a successful tripartite meeting, involving the Government of India, Manipur government and the UNC, the UNC has agreed to lift the economic blockade of national highways in Manipur that it had imposed on November 1, 2016 protesting the then Congress led Manipur government’s decision to create two new districts of Sadar Hills and Jiribam. The UNC demanded a rollback arguing that creation of new districts would affect the interests of the Naga people of the state.
The five months old blockade of the state’s two main highways has restricted its access to Nagaland, Assam and Myanmar and has crippled the delivery of essential items to the north-eastern state. Though a restricted number of supply trucks were allowed to pass every week, these were never enough.
NEW POLITICAL ALIGNMENTS
BJP leader N Biren Singh, along with eight other cabinet ministers, took oath on March 15. He is heading a coalition government of Nagaland People’s Front (NPF), National People’s Party (NPP) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). His government is also supported by an independent MLA, the lone TMC MLA in the house and a Congress MLA who has defected and has been made minister.
A ruling coalition involving Naga parties may have helped in convincing the UNC in taking a swift decision to remove the blockade. The NPF, ruling party of Nagaland and an NDA alliance partner, is now the BJP’s ruling partner in Manipur. Besides NPP, the party that won four seats and has got four ministerial berths in Biren Singh’s cabinet including the post of the deputy chief minister, had also got the UNC support.
Biren Singh’s BJP led coalition government is scheduled to face the trust vote tomorrow. In the 60-member strong Manipur legislative assembly, the ruling Congress party won 28 seats while the BJP got 21 seats in the recently concluded elections. A simple house majority needs support of 31 MLAs. The BJP could garner the required numbers and staked claim to form the government while the Congress’ claims were rejected as it could support them with documentary evidence. The BJP is claiming to have 33 MLAs in its fold now, including 4 each from NPF and NPP, one from LJP and TMC, one independent and one defected from the Congress.