Our Spl Correspondent
IMPHAL, FEBRUARY 21: A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives Imphal to address a mammoth election rally, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi landed here on Monday to woo Manipur voters even as the grand old party is hoping high to revive it’s prospects in the State and the Northeast.
Rahul Gandhi spoke about alleged RSS intent in the Northeast.
“When BJP and RSS come to Manipur, they come not with respect, not with understanding. They come with a sense of superiority. When I come here, I don’t come with a sense of superiority, I come with humility”, Rahul Gandhi said.
Gandhi paid floral tributes at Nupi Lal Memorial, Imphal. The complex was set up as a mark of tribute to Manipuri freedom fighters, who fought against the British, during colonial era.
Rahul Gandhi also visited Imphal’s Ima Keithel ~ one of the largest all-women markets in Asia. He was received by vendors and other workers with clapping of hands and pro-Congress sloganeering.
Several of them greeted him with flowers and shook hands and took snaps and videos on mobile.
Prime Minister Modi will be arriving in Imphal on February 22 to campaign for BJP candidates for the ensuing 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly elections.
During his visit, he will address an election rally at Luwangshangbam Sports complex here.
BJP state unit president A Sharda Devi appealed to the people of the State to extend their support and cooperation to the Prime Minister’s visit.
The BJP is contesting all 40 seats in the Meitei dominated valley. Chief Minister N Biren Singh and other key leaders’ fate will be decided on February 28 voting.
The Congress is banking on old war horse O Ibobi Singh, a former CM, to make a comeback in the State. The BJP has problems of dissension post ticket distribution and analysts do not rule out change of Chief Minister by BJP as was done in Assam after the results came in on March 10.
Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio (of NDPP) campaigned in Senapati district on February 16 and stressed a lot on the need for an early signing of a peace pact between Naga militants and the Centre.
The NPF has fielded 10 candidates mostly in hilly regions. Interestingly, some observers say even in hilly regions, the NPP could pick up 2-3 seats.
This will essentially mean further marginalisation of the Congress and the BJP.
One Mao-based analyst told Nagaland Page, “The Congress is missing the fire in the belly. This gives a huge advantage to the NPP as all resentment against the BJP could end up favouring the NPP candidates both in the hills and in the plain areas”.
In BJP, now there is a realisation that perhaps antagonizing both its allies NPP and NPF was slightly on the erroneous side.
It dumped the allies and drew out plans to contest all 60 seats on its own.