Rumblings within coalition partners
WITH the exception of BJP comfortably winning the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, as well as the Congress regaining power in Punjab, the hung mandates in Goa and Manipur had offset some intense post-poll politicking. Though the Goa political cauldron appears to have cooled down with BJP eventually managing to cobble up a majority, formation of the BJP-led coalition government in Manipur is apparently far from achieving the goal of political stability if the resignation letter tendered by health and family welfare minister L Jayantakumar is of any indication. Moreover, media reports quoting deputy chief minister Y Joykumar as saying that ‘necessary steps could be taken at any time in the prevailing political scenario’ suggest that not all the coalition partners in the N Biren government are satisfied, for reasons best known to them. For different reasons, the battle to form the new governments in Goa and Manipur was marked by many national and state Congress leaders accusing the BJP of attempting to wrest power in these two tiny states, where the Congress emerged as the single largest party, but still fell short of the magic figure. Formation of the BJP-led coalition government in Manipur was comparatively a smooth process than in Goa, where the hung assembly left ample room for some intense political drama to unfold, such as the Congress accusing the BJP of resorting to 'horse-trading' in order to gain majority in the coastal state.
Particularly critical of the BJP’s attempt to wrest power in Goa was senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who alleged that the BJP not only indulged in horse-trading but also promised money, ministerial posts, plump posts in corporations and SUVs to MLAs to get their support. In Manipur’s case, all the four MLAs of National People’s Party; to which Jayantakumar and Joykumar also belong; allotted ministerial posts basically infers that the NPP quartet had the bargaining power as their presence were of paramount importance in the formation and longevity of the coalition government. Regardless of pressure mounted by the alliance partners to get their voices heard or wishes fulfilled, the N Biren government has the backing of the Union government to tide over tricky situation for the simple fact that patronage of the Centre is inevitable for the resource-starved state to make headway in all aspects of governance and development. On account of the BJP and its NDA allies projected to remain in power after the 2019 parliamentary elections, non-Congress parties in Manipur or their legislators are unlikely to take the risk of parting ways from the BJP-led coalition. Thus, taking the coalition partners into confidence prior to taking any important decisions and extending them all possible assistance in justifying mandate of the electors and living up to their expectations would be the most convenient means in averting threat, if any, posed to the harmony of the coalition government. Moreover, the alliance partners should not ignore the fact that the people cast their invaluable votes for non-Congress political parties at the recent assembly polls with the hope of change in governance and usher in a new era of development in the state.