Imphal: In perhaps the only solace to the Congress government in the state Assembly elections 2012, the Manipur electorate gave a thumping majority to the party, helping it win 42 seats out of 60. The party scored a hat-trick and returned to power in the northeastern state, helped by a fragmented opposition.
The Trinamool Congress, part of an 11-party Peoples Democratic Alliance, made an impressive debut winning seven seats, followed by the Naga Peoples' Font (NPF) that bagged four seats. The TMC had a sole member in the outgoing House. Other partners of the alliance together with the Trinamool Congress were able to secure only 16 seats.
The People's Democratic Party (PDF), meanwhile, secured one seat, while others notched six seats.
There was jubilation in Congress camps across the state 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.
Following suit, Ibobi Singh's wife Landhoni Devi also won the Khangabok seat by defeating rival Jatra Singh of Manipur People's Party (MPP) by a huge margin of over 9,000 votes. Khangabok was the constituency of the chief minister 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 is the leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Manipur Assembly, is a former chief minister. Koijam was instrumental for bringing the 11 non-congress parties under one anti-Congress alliance - Peoples' Democratic Alliance (PDA).
The BJP which contested 19 seats drew a blank. The CPI, which was a former coalition partner of the Congress in the erstwhile Secular Democratic Front failed to win a single seat. CPI candidate and Agriculture minister, Ph Parijat Singh, who had won from Lamlai four times was defeated by the Congress' K Biren Singh. The CPI had contested 24 seats.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader and Forest minister Th Debendra Singh won from Jiribam. Among two Congress ministers who lost were Minority minister Alauddin Khan from Keirao and Education minister DD Thaisi in Karong.
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 as at least 11 non-Congress parties have formed an alliance to stop the Congress from coming to power. The non-Congress parties included the NCP, Manipur People's Party (MPP), CPI, CPI-M, JD-U, National People's Party (NPP), Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP), Trinamool Congress, Lok Jana Shakti Party, BJP and the Naga People's Front (NPF).
What had made it worse for the Congress is 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 January 28 polls.
(With additional inputs from IANS and PTI)