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Manipur CM Ibobi Singh refuses to quit, says he has majority support

IANS | Imphal |

In a fresh political twist in Manipur, Congress Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has refused to heed Governor Najma Heptulla's directive to resign in order for a new ministry to be formed, saying he enjoys majority support in the assembly.

Heptulla on Monday said she has asked Ibobi Singh to resign so that the process of forming a new government could start, but stated she has not invited any party to form government as yet. However, she likely to invite the BJP to form the government, informed sources said. 

Speaking to media here, Heptulla stated that she is a "straightforward person" and wants to put the "record correct".

"Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh had brought a letter from the National People's Party saying that the four elected members extend support to the Congress. I told him that he cannot bring such letters on behalf of the office bearers. The elected members should come physically. I also instructed him to resign so that I could start the process of ministry formation. 

She added, "He did not say anything he just went away. Till now I am waiting for the resignation letter of the Chief Minister." 

"I did not ask him or anybody that you prove majority but I have the documents of the BJP president along with the legislators paraded…they paraded the people which was shown on television," she said.

Ibobi Singh has refused to resign. "I still enjoy majority support in the Assembly and as such there is no question of my resigning," he told reporters. 

The Chief Minister added that the Congress had secured 28 seats and enjoys support of the four MLAs of the NPP. 

"We should be given the first chance to form the ministry, he added. 

Constitutional experts are of the opinion that the single largest party, the Congress, should be given a chance to form the ministry since no party has secured absolute majority. 

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party may finalise the choice of party legislature leader. Thongam Bishwajit and N. Biren are the contenders for the leadership. 

Union Minister and BJP leader Prakash Javadker who rushed to Imphal on Monday, said, "After the meeting we will get approval from the higher ups. Once the leader is elected we shall form the ministry. We are thankful to the people for electing us to power. We shall give a new life to the people of the state."

In a related development, while the Congress claims it enjoys the supports of the four National People's Party MLAs, Vivekraj Wangkhem of the NPP maintained his party is supporting the BJP to form government.

"Our party and elected members have extended support to the BJP in the formation of the ministry," he said.

Wangkhem also said that the party's earlier written assurance to the Congress is invalidated. 

The stand of the party is that it will support the BJP, he added. 

While the Congress has 28 elected members in the 60-member House, the BJP which secured 21 has increased its tally to 32 as all other parties and the lone independent including one Congress MLA have extended support to it. 

The BJP General Secretaries, Ram Madhav, Prahlad Singh Patel and the Assam Finance Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma claimed that the party enjoys support of 32 MLAs. 

Chief Minister Ibobi Singh was pinning his hope on the support of the four MLAs of the NPP.