Amid Manipur power play AICC observers Maken, Gogoi in quarantine; Cong, BJP trade barbs

Last Updated : 21 June 2020, 02:36 IST
Last Updated : 21 June 2020, 02:36 IST

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AICC observers Ajay Maken and Gaurav Gogoi, who had flown here Friday evening, were kept under quarantine for the second consecutive day as per COVID-19 protocols in Manipur, while a war of words erupted between the ruling BJP and the Congress.

While the Congress claimed that the BJP-led government has lost the majority, the BJP claimed the issue had been settled with the victory of its candidate in the Rajya Sabha polls.

Nobody has been allowed to see Ajay Maken, Congress spokesperson, and Gaurav Gogoi, General Secretary in-charge of North East, who came here as AICC observers after the sudden political developments in Manipur including the formation of Secular Progressive Front (SPF) led by O Ibobi Singh following the resignation of four ministers belonging to National People's Party and five others from the government.

The state authority had placed the two All India Congress Committee (AICC) leaders in a paid quarantine centre at an Imphal Hotel in accordance with the state's guidelines on the pandemic.

As they had already booked rooms at the said hotel before their arrival here, they were guided by an Additional Superintendent of Police rank officer to the hotel, official sources said.

Both of them have to stay in isolation and undergo COVID- 19 test, a government spokesperson said.

A state Congress leader, on the condition of anonymity, said they are not allowed to see the AICC leaders as they are in quarantine centre.

BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav took a swipe at the Congress, saying it could not the Rajya Sabha seat and was claiming majority in the Assembly.

"Congress party couldn't wind RS seat in Manipur. Yet went to governor claiming they have a majority in Assembly. Their leader Ajay Maken and MP Gaurav Gogoi entered Manipur disregarding Corona guidelines. They have been promptly quarantined by d state health authorities (sic)," he tweeted.

In the Rajya Sabha poll in Manipur taking place in the backdrop of high political drama triggered by the resignations, BJP's Leishemba Sanajaoba defeated rival Congress candidate T Mangi Babu by four votes.

In a counter to Ram Madhav, Ajay Maken tweeted, "Congress always regards rules & traditions-We came here with permission with full knowledge & booked quarantine center in advance. It is a support to the Manipur PCC & its people in the fight against a Govt formed by manipulation against popular votes!"

Gaurav Gogoi, MP, also hit back at Ram Madhav, saying "You are a senior leader of your party. I would have hoped that you would check your facts before tweeting. Maybe the last minute manipulation to block four Congress votes has induced a false sense of confidence."

Three Congress defectors -- Ksh Biren Singh, S Bira Singh, and Surchandra Singh -- were not allowed to cast their votes as cases are pending against them. However, the other four defectors could vote.

The seven Congress legislators who had crossed over to the BJP shortly after the 2017 state polls have been facing anti-defection cases. Their disqualification matter is with the Manipur High Court as well as the Speaker's Tribunal.

One recently disqualified MLA was also barred from taking part in the voting process.

Of the nine members who tendered resignation on Wednesday, BJP MLAs S Subhashchandra Singh, T T Haokip and Samuel Jendai could not cast their votes.

Four NPP ministers, who had withdrawn their support from the ruling coalition, have exercised their franchise during the poll.

The lone Trinamool Congress MLA T Robindro Singh, who also pulled out of the N Biren Singh-led dispensation, was not allowed to cast his vote. He lodged a complaint to the Election Commission in this regard.

Smelling a chance, the Congress had stepped up efforts to oust the BJP-led government by urging Governor Najma Heptullah on Thursday to convene a special assembly session for taking up a no-confidence motion against the Biren Singh ministry.

Election to the lone seat of the Parliament's upper house was seen as a test of numbers between the government and the newly formed Secular Progressive Front (SPF) of the opposition headed by Congress.

Buoyed by the BJP candidate's victory, Chief Minister N Biren Singh has said that the Rajya Sabha poll evidently settled the "majority and minority" issue.

But, the Opposition leader O Ibobi Singh Saturday alleged that the government is actually in minority and asked it to prove the majority in the House.

"From day one, when the nine MLAs withdrew their support from the BJP-led coalition government, it has been reduced to the minority", he told reporters.

Ibobi continued, as per democratic norms, the newly formed Secular Progressive Front (SPF), have urged the Governor to call for a special assembly session.

"If they are able to prove their majority, let them continue," the former chief minister added.

Published 21 June 2020, 02:36 IST

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