Our Spl Correspondent
NEW DELHI/IMPHAL, FEBRUARY6: Poll preparations by administrators and police officials and political activities gained momentum in Manipur as the State is heading for February 27 and March 3 voting dates.
Expenditure observers and other poll management officials are reaching out in various Assembly segments reviewing things and guiding the officials for free and fair polls.
Checkpoints have been set up to maintain strict vigil across the State and in vulnerable areas.
The first phase of the 2-phase polling for the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly will be held in 38 Assembly Constituencies on February 27 and for the remaining 22 seats in the second phase voting will take place on March 3.
In the polls expected to throw up a fractured mandate, smaller parties are banking a lot on their good fortunes and hoping for a favourable mandate in several constituencies.
A newly floated Kuki People’s Alliance has decided to field candidates in 2 Assembly segments of Singngat and Saikul. Kimneo Haokip Hangsing will contest from Saikul while Chinlunthang will be the KPA candidate for Singngat.
It is also being argued in some quarters that the Kuki political outfit could harm the Opposition Congress as the Kukis have traditionally voted for the grand old party in the State.
Kukis say they face ‘discrimination’ at various levels and are described as ‘migrants’ although they have sizable population in the State.
Even in 2017, the smaller parties have reaped enough dividends as the NPP with mere 4 seats in the 60-member Assembly could manage Deputy Chief Minister’s post for Y Joykumar and also ministership for 3 others.
The NPF with 4 seats also managed to be with the ruling BJP, which had 21 seats as against 28 of the Congress.
JD (U) of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is also hopeful of doing well in the polls and reaping maximum benefits after the results come in.
Congress legislator of Lamlai Assembly constituency, Kshetrimayum Biren, on Saturday filed his nomination as a JD-U candidate for the coming Assembly elections.
Biren has said the JD-U was being underestimated for long but after the BJP candidates were announced, several ticket aspirants and potential winners have joined the JD-U giving it a major boost.
The Congress has worked out an alliance with the Left and the alliance has been formally christened as the ‘Manipur Progressive Secular Alliance’.
The common minimum programme includes 18 points that say among other things effective implementation of Article 371(c) of the Indian Constitution, to protect the preamble of the Constitution and to secure the ‘territorial integrity’ of Manipur and its historical boundaries.
Speaking at the release of the CMP of the new alliance, former CM O Ibobi Singh said the alliance has been formed to defeat the present BJP Government, which was formed in 2017 by adopting horse-trading.
Meanwhile, a major row has been kicked off over a Manipur delegation allegedly forced to take off shoes before entering Home Minister Amit Shah’s house in Delhi.
The issue was flagged off in Lok Sabha during debate on the Presidential address by Rahul Gandhi.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh, and BJP’s face for the polls in the State, has tried to defend Shah but perhaps damage was done and an influential tribal body the All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) said, “The Home Minister ought to explain and apologise to the tribal population”.
Raising the issue Rahul Gandhi alleged on February 2 that the Manipuri “political leaders” told him that while they were asked to take off the shoes but when they went inside, they saw Shah in his slippers.
“What exactly does it mean?” Gandhi had asked.
Parties such as LJP are also trying their luck in the polls.