All about the Manipur Political Crisis

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The Manipur government was toppled in June. It is as a result of the resignation of MLAs. On August 10, 2020, the BJP coalition government in Manipur won the voice trust vote and retained the house. 

Introduction

All’s well that ends well. But that’s not true in the case of these political cataclysms. All the political tension the state goes through is unwelcome. Not to mention the time and resources wasted in the same. The pandemic has been a growing threat to the nation. Whilst the government has been doing its own business irrelevant of these deaths and pandemic. However, these political disasters are coming to an end. Rajasthan and Manipur political crises are closed. It is a relief for now. But only time can tell where such wavering governments stand. The rest of the world has been pushing itself to restore the status quo before the pandemic. But India is still in lockdown and the cases have been growing ever since. The governments which stand for the people, of the people and by the people are seriously concerned with retaining their power. May it be a BJP led state or a Congress-led one, the toppling seems to be inevitable. 

The Story so far

The Manipur Legislative Assembly consists of 60 seats. In the 2017 elections, Congress emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats. BJP won 21 seats in the same election. Congress had the support of regional parties. But it could not form the government as 8 MLAs defected from the party and joined the BJP. BJP coalition formed the government. The petitions were filed to the speaker then. But the speaker did not take any action to date. Recently the High Court gave a verdict basing on the Kihoto Hollohan case. The court stated that the speaker was arbitrary for not taking any action. It restrained the seven MLAs to enter the assembly complex until further orders were given. Nevertheless, the three-year BJP coalition government has been toppled in June due to 6 MLAs withdrawing support, three others joining Congress. The resentment is due to the government’s handling of the COVID outbreak and also the increasing interference with the functioning of non-BJP ministries. However, the four NPP MLAs joined back. The strength of the house at present stands at 53. The opposition moved a no-confidence motion on July 28. Both parties issued whips to their respective MLAs. They were asked to vote according to the line of their parties. The chief minister moved a trust vote on August 10th and won the voice trust vote. The BJP coalition retained the house.

Analysis

This political crisis received less coverage from media compared to Rajasthan political crisis. There is also less drama involved. All because it is a BJP led government. The BJP as usual played its cards well. It brought in the common dilemmas like the CBI probe. It used the institutions for the sole purpose of retaining power. There are fewer opportunities to play with, in the state itself. As the government itself was formed on a wrong footing. The only way was through the procedure of confidence motion. Anti-defection laws and resignations have been at play since the beginning. Anti-defection law was enforced to keep the ‘Aya Ram Gaya Ram’ politics in check. The law does not seem to work anymore for its purpose. Rather it has been helping the ministers and MLAs for their benefits. Resignation is another loophole that needs to be addressed. The constitution framers never thought of the need for framing laws for the same. As they did not foresee the political catastrophes caused due to resignations. There is no recourse whatsoever for the voluntary resignation. Neither in the Constitution nor any specific statutes. 

Confidence Motion: It is also known as the trust vote. It is conducted to show the support and confidence in the government. It is generally conducted when the assembly meets for the first time. It can also be conducted during the tenure of five years when the political equation seems to be challenged. A no-confidence motion is the complete opposite of the confidence motion. It is generally initiated by the opposition whereas confidence motion is moved by the government. In the present case, Congress moved for no-confidence motion with a 14-day notice. But the speaker did not take up the motion and initiated the confidence motion. The trust vote also was not conducted according to the legislative procedures. It was a voice trust vote. It is a process where the motion is decided by the ‘ayes’ and ‘noes’ of the members present. The most controversial system adapted to decide the fate of the legislative assembly and the people. Even in the trust vote eight of the Congress MLAs abstained even after whips have been issued. The rules for no-confidence motion and confidence motion are not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution. But they are given under the Rules for Procedure and Conduct of the legislative assembly for the respective states. Those rules are violated. The speaker didn’t allow for live telecast which is another issue regarding the motion.

Conclusion

Don’t know where the country is headed. People are hapless and helpless. The greed for power is running the country. The constitution is neither followed nor respected. The smell of power is getting to the heads of political leaders. And the same power stinks to the people. All the system was established for the people, but at the end of the day, people are neglected. Constitutional values are neglected. The cornerstones of the nation are shattered. What kind of precedents such motions set for the future? This regime of violation of the Constitution is the dark reality of the political parties. Congress spokesman Ningombam Meitei remarked, “Today is the day of the murder of democracy in Manipur…as Congress MLAs’ demand for division of votes wasn’t accepted.”

The office of the Speaker is also under threat in the present situation. The tremendous amount of powers given to the speaker are being challenged in situations like these. The speaker should be unbiased and not arbitrary. The only reason for the repeat of the political instabilities in the country is loopholes in the law. Experts say the present laws do not have any liability assigned to the defaulting parties or members. There is no punishment given. The people are bearing the heat of such instabilities, the people who are causing it are having a secure future. The Congress has asked for the repeat of the trust vote. Hopefully, there should not be a repeat of the same violations. The people and democratic principles should have a victory in the future.


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