Two visits in three days to Manipur’s capital Imphal by North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) chairman Himanta Biswa Sarma and a subsequent meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday with Union Home Minister Amit Shah seem to have ironed out the problems for now for the N Biren Singh-BJP government in the state that had appeared to be in troubled waters.
Sources said the meeting with Shah and Sarma, attended by National People’s Party (NPP) chief Conrad Sangma and four of his party MLAs — Yumnam Joykumar Singh, L Jayentakumar, Letpao Haokip and N Kayisi — lasted for more than 90 minutes.
Sarma, Sangma and the NPP MLAs later also called on BJP national president JP Nadda at the party headquarters.
Sangma and company conveyed to Shah the problems on ground with the BJP state leadership and how the issue had remained unaddressed despite having been brought up with the Centre earlier.
Shah gave them a patient hearing and an assurance that their concerns would be duly addressed. He also told Sangma that since the NPP is an ally in both Meghalaya and Manipur and also a part of NEDA, they did not do the right thing by going the Congress way instead of raising the matter with them.
After the meeting, Assam Finance Minister Sarma in a tweet said the NPP will continue to support the BJP government in the state for the development of Manipur.
A NPP delegation led by @SangmaConrad and Dy Chief Minister of Manipur Sri Y Joy Kumar Singh met Honble President of @BJP4India Sri @JPNadda ji today in New Delhi. NPP will continue to support BJP govt in Manipur for the development of Manipur
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) June 24, 2020
Sangma also tweeted to say they will continue to work together in the interests of the people of Manipur.
— Conrad Sangma (@SangmaConrad) June 24, 2020
It is now given to understand that the four NPP MLAs will soon meet Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla and extend their support to the Biren Singh government.
On the question of whether a change of chief minister face beckons in Manipur, with growing dissent against Biren Singh, the top BJP leadership backeed him and is mindful of bowing under pressure to replace him.
Trouble started before the recent Rajya Sabha polls when nine legislators, including three BJP MLAs, four from NPP, one independent and one from TMC, decided to withdraw support to Biren Singh’s government. The three BJP MLAs jumped ship to the Congress.
The BJP, despite this crisis, managed to win the lone Rajya Sabha seat.
The BJP had to rush its troubleshooter Sarma to Manipur. While being there on two occasions in the last three days, Sarma held meetings with various leaders. Speaking at Imphal airport on Tuesday evening, he said, “There are problems and we want to sort it out for once and for all. We will be holding a meeting with our top leaders in Delhi. After this we hope all issues are sorted and we can focus on development and elections.”
Earlier on Wednesday, BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav said in Imphal, “There is no trouble and our government is stable till 2022.”
The problems for Congress, which had rushed Gaurav Gogoi and Ajay Maken to Manipur, are far from over. Top sources indicate at least four MLAs from the party are in touch with the BJP and may soon jump ship.
The problems between BJP’s Biren Singh and Bishwajeet Singh have been there from the start. Although Bishwajeet has always eyed the number two position in Manipur government, it has remained elusive. While Biren Singh has been very close to Ram Madhav, Bishwajeet has been known to be a close confidante of Sarma.
Bishwajeet and Biren Singh both made a number of visits to Delhi including one just before 2019 general elections when Nadda met them and had conveyed that the matter was resolved.