Congress scores hat trick in Manipur (Fifth Lead)
Imphal, March 6 (IANS) The Congress Tuesday stormed back to power in Manipur by winning 34 of the 50 seats for which results were declared till 4 p.m. Tuesday. The state assembly has 60 seats.
Sources in the state election office said that of the others, the Trinamool Congress won seven seats followed by the Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP) with four seats. The Naga Peoples' Front (NPF) has won three seats so far. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) have secured one seat each.
There was jubilation in the Congress camp after Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh retained his Thoubal seat, defeating his rival from the BJP Indira Oinam by a huge margin of over 15,000 votes.
Ibobi Singh's wife Landhoni Devi won the Khangabok seat defeating her rival Jatra Singh of Manipur People's Party (MPP) by a huge margin of over 9,000 votes. Khangabok was the chief minister's constituency earlier.
Opposition parties received a severe jolt after three leaders, Radhabinod Koijam of the NCP, O. Joy Singh and Th Chaoba Singh of MPP, lost to their rivals.
Koijam, who was leader of opposition in the outgoing Manipur assembly, is a former chief minister and was instrumental in bringing the 11 non-Congress parties under one anti-Congress alliance -- Peoples' Democratic Alliance (PDA).
Okram Ibobi Singh will be the second chief minister in the northeast to make it to the top seat for the third consecutive time in recent times after Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
While Gogoi brought the party to power in Assam in 2001, 2006 and 2011, Ibobi Singh had single-handedly brought the Congress to power in Manipur in 2002 and in 2007.
Congress spokesman in Manipur N. Biren Singh, who has won from the Heingang constituency, said the Congress party is going to form the next government in the state. "We are going to win not less than 35 seats this time," he said.
In Manipur, the Congress had a tough battle this time facing the PDA. The non-Congress alliance comprised the NCP, Manipur People's Party (MPP), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), National People's Party (NPP), Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP), Trinamool Congress, LJP, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the NPF.
What made it worse for the Congress was the fact that at least seven militant outfits had imposed a ban on the party. The militants also attacked several Congress candidates and supporters ahead of the Jan 28 vote.