Imphal: The ruling
Congress party in Manipur is making a spirited attempt to stage a
political hat-trick, pitted as it is against a fractured
opposition in the Jan 28 elections to the 60-member assembly.
Despite barely a week to go for the polls, electioneering is at
its lowest ebb with most candidates resorting to door-to-door
campaigning and small street corner meetings to woo voters.
There is no major issue dominating the polls with most opposition
parties harping on local issues ranging from corruption to bad
governance, insurgency, frequent blockades and failure of the
Congress government in the past two terms.
"We are hoping to win the polls once again as we worked for the
welfare of the people and brought about development during the
past 10 years," Gaikhangam, president of the state Congress party,
The Manipur People's Party (MPP), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)
and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have worked out a pre-poll
alliance although the three parties did not have much of a stake
in the outgoing assembly.
In the 2007 assembly elections, the Congress party won 31 seats,
the MPP and the NCP bagged four seats each, while 10 seats were
won by independents. The RJD won three seats, while smaller
regional parties made up for the rest.
The BJP failed to open its account in the 2007 polls.
The BJP, the Trinamol Congress and several smaller regional
parties are fighting the polls on their own, thereby leaving the
field open to the Congress party once again.
"We are confident of ousting the Congress from power," MPP
president Nimaichand Luwang said.
An estimated 1.75 million voters would decide the fate of 279
candidates, including 14 women aspirants.
An interesting aspect this time is the Naga People's Front (NPF, a
party from Nagaland) making its electoral foray in Manipur's
tribal Naga-inhabited areas.
NPF is trying to harp on the issue of integrating Naga-dominated
areas with Nagaland, a bitter bone of contention between the
majority Meteis and Nagas in Manipur.
"We have two-three agendas. One is to solve the Naga problem and
the second is the move to fight corruption in Manipur," said Losii
Dikho, NPF candidate from Senapati.
The Congress is unfazed by the NPF's electoral debut in Manipur.
"NPF will fail to make any impact in the polls," Chief Minister
Okram Ibobi Singh said.
(Zarir Hussain can be contacted at email@example.com)