With a fractured mandate in Manipur with no clear winner in the Assembly, the Congress has said that it would form the next government with the help of "like-minded secular and regional parties".
Although the Congress has emerged as the single largest party winning 26 seats – the BJP bagged 21 and is leading on another -- the 60-member Manipur assembly is headed for a hung House with no political party having managed to reach the magic figure of 31.
However, the Congress is confident that it will be able to draw support from smaller players.
“We are confident that we will form the next government in Manipur. We are already in talks with like-minded secular and regional parties,” Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Haokip was quoted as saying by PTI.
Besides the two prominent players, the Naga Peoples Front, which has an alliance with the BJP in Nagaland, too bagged three seats and is leading on one.
National Peoples Party (NPP) has won four seats and could be key to forming government in the state.
Lok Janshakti Party too won a seat and its leader and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan has already announced the support of the lone MLA to the BJP.
One seat has been bagged by an independent candidate.
Asked if the Congress was open to an alliance with the NPF, Haokip replied in the negative.
"The Congress will never go for an alliance with the NPF and the BJP. We are open for alliance with any other party," the Congress leader said.
On his party not being able to cross the half-way mark of 30, Haokip alleged massive rigging and booth capturing by extremist group NSCN(IM) in favour of NPF and BJP in several seats.
"The NSCN(IM), in order to defeat the Congress, had resorted to massive rigging and booth capturing in various seats in favour of the BJP and the NPF candidates. Plus the money power too had played a vital role in favour of the BJP," Haokip said.
“A section of people were also swayed by the BJP's false promises on the economic blockade," he added.
Among the notable candidates who were successful was Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh. Ibobi won from Thoubal Assembly seat defeating L Basanta Singh of BJP by 10,400 votes.
The biggest surprise was the number of votes polled in favour of rights activist Irom Sharmila, who had contested against the Chief Minister. Sharmila, who broke her 16-year-old fast last year to enter electoral politics, secured only 90 votes.
Other prominent Congress candidates who won include Md Abdul Naser and K Jaikishen Singh.
N Biren Singh, a key BJP leader, emerged victorious from Heingang Assembly seat. Other prominent BJP nominees who won included Sapam R Singh and Heikham Dingo Singh.
Y Jaikumar Singh and Langpoklakpam J Singh of Nationalist People's Party (NPP) emerged victorious from Uripok and Keishamthong seat, respectively.
The Naga People's Front won from Mao (ST), Tamei (ST) and Phungyar (ST) seats.
Lok Jan Shakti party's Karam Shyam won the Langthabal seat.