From the archive of weekly news related to MLA Election 2017 published in major English dailies of Manipur and beyond

Image: Mid-Day


Dr Kumuiteung to contest in Tamei

Imphal Free Press
Daniel Kamei

A workers meet cum worship programme of Shri Dr Kumuiteung alias Dr Aku intending candidate for 52- Tamei Assembly Constituency was held at his party office in Tamenglong. The meeting strong condemned the central and state leaders of BJP for awarding BJP ticket to former MLA Kikhonbou by putting aside all those people who had made sacrifice for the party.

Nehemiah Daime, Media and Publicity Incharge of Adhoc Steering Committee of Dr Kumuiteung, further sought the bitter story played by national and state BJP incharge for putting aside Dr Kumuiteung, BJP ticket seeker and award BJP ticket to newly merge former MLA Kikhonbou. He said that as many as 200 leaders and workers from both Tamei and Tousem had attended the meeting and resolved to contest in 52-Tamei Assembly Constituency in the forthcoming state assembly constituency election.

3 Congress ADC members join NPF

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL| Jan 27

The Naga People’s Front (NPF) has warmly received three Congress Autonomous District Council (ADC) members who joined the party in a simple reception program at NPF party office at Dewlahland, here today. S Thotasheng, ADC member from 23 Kasom Khullen DCC Ukhrul, Sasom Khodang, ADC member from 19 Grihang, DCC Ukhrul and Hoping Jajo, former ADC and executive member of ADC Ukhrul said they left Congress party to join NPF in response to a greater call.

Addressing media at the occasion, Honreikhui Kashung, general secretary, NPF Manipur State Unit said after the three politicians have joined NPF, out of 24 elected ADC members in Ukhrul District only three non-NPF members are left in the district. Responding to media he informed that the party candidate list will be announced soon. In 15 constituencies NPF received 40 ticket seekers while among the 15 constituencies, NPF is filing five candidates in non-Naga dominated areas which are Saikul, Saitu, Kangpokpi, Jiribam and Henglep, he announced.

Reiterating party’s motto to bring ‘Manipur, a state of equal opportunity and equal development’, he appealed every political party including every section of society not to misinterpret NPF having relation with certain underground group.

PRJA’s interface with youth continues

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 27

After two successful interactions with the youth in the last fortnight, Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) conducted its third open session with the youths today at Forage Cafe, Thangmeiband here. During the interaction many youth raised several questions related with the incompetence of the current government of the state. They also enquired on PRJA’s ideology to its convener, Erendro Leichombam.

Erendro said that PRJA political party has been formed to empower the youth politically and clean up the corrupted and unjust system of the state. He added that the situation in the state is extremely disturbing with corruption, black laws, violation of human rights. It is time for the youth to stand up to bring about real democracy and corruption free administration, he said.

Ticket aspirants

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 27

The Manipur People’s Party has notified that the application form to get party’s ticket for the upcoming State Assembly election has been issued from today and the last date for submission will be on February 4, 2017, said a release. It further said all interested candidates can avail the application form during office hour from 10 am to 4 pm.

BJP condoles

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 27

The Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP Manipur Pradesh has deeply condoled the sudden demise of former president of BJP, Kumbi Mandal N Mani Singh during a condolence meeting held today at Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya Auditorium, state BJP office, Imphal, said a release. It further said addressing the meeting, the president of BJP, Manipur Pradesh K Bhabananda expressed a deep sorrow and grief on the sudden demise of (L) Mani Singh and took share the shock and grief of his family.

Congress for declaring United Naga Council unlawful

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 27

The state Congress is all prepared to urge the central government to declare the United Naga Council as an unlawful organisation. There is enough evidence against the UNC that it is hand in glove with NSCN(IM). This was stated by Kh Joykishan, spokesperson of the Congress party while addressing the media today at Congress Bhavan, BT road Imphal.

He said that there are enough documents and prima facie evidence that indicates United Naga Council is an unlawful organisation. The documents are prepared with help from state law secretary, he said. The party is hopeful that central government will come up with firm decision, he added.

He pointed out that it has been more than 80 days that economic blockade is imposed on the National Highways. He called for a unanimous decision from all the political parties of the state against the economic blockade launched by United Naga Council. He further said that at least two lives have lost and many have been left injured.

Joykishan came down heavily against the speech made by the convenor of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), Himanta Biswas Sarma during his recent visit to the state. He alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a hidden agenda by inviting president rule in the state repeatedly.

NCP Manipur State urges its intending candidates

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 27 2017: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Manipur State, has urged intending candidates to submit their nomination papers at the earliest. In a press meet held at Manipur Press Club today, NCP Manipur State president Soram Iboyaima Singh has advised all the intending candidates of the party to submit their nomination paper before January 30.

With the State Assembly election drawing closer, political parties have started announcing their list of candidates. To make sure NCP does not fall behind in poll campaign, intending candidates of the party have been asked to submit their nomination paper before the last date fixed by its Election Management Committee, that is January 30.

Election manifesto of the party will be released shortly, Iboyaima informed. Members of various political parties have joined NCP in the past few months. Some of the noted personality who have joined NCP are MI Khan of Keirao AC and Diten of Heirok AC. MI Khan was given a warm reception at today’s press meet. NCP Manipur State Election Management Committee chairman Y Iboyaima also attended the press meet.

Biren charges Congress of hatching Manipur disintegration, corruption

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 27

Mudslinging between the Congress party and the BJP continue unabated. In this spirit, spokesperson of the state BJP, N Biren today came out strongly alleging that it was former Congress leaders, including the incumbent home minister, who were promoting the Greater Nagalim demand. Speaking to media persons at the state BJP office at Nityaipat Chuthek, Biren mentioned that the Congress party has been in power since the state got statehood way back in 1972, however the state is still in total chaos.

“There has been no proper administration, only tales of corruption and appeasement policy to certain organizations,” Biren who is a former Congress minister in the Ibobi cabinet charged. “It is our former chief minister Rishang Keishing who had instigated the Nagas to carve out a separate homeland for themselves,” he said adding that way back in 2005, Gaikhangam also signed an agreement with the Naga Students Federation, which promoted the organization and it sister concerns like the UNC , ANSAM to terrorize the public of the state.

He stated further that the Congress regime is one of the most corrupt and it is high time that the public acknowledged this.

“Till date, there has been no BJP government in the state, this time let BJP uproot the deep rooted trees of corruption planted by the Congress,” Biren who joined the BJP recently said.

New App to Help Manipur Voters Locate Booths, File Complaints via WhatsApp

Northeast Today

January 26: To go the digital way in upcoming Manipur assembly polls, the state government on Wednesday launched a new mobile application called “e-Manipur election” which will provide several key information to the voters.

Chief Secretary O Nabakishore launched the app on the occasion of the 7th National Voters’ Day at City Convention Centre Hall. The App project head, Ramayan, who was in-charge of developing it, told PTI that some of the features have been introduced for the first time in the state and the country as well.

He said such an App was first launched in Bihar and then in West Bengal in their respective last elections. Later, Manipur authorities urged the Election Commission to devise it for the state.

Created by Software Education and Resource Private Limited, the App, which could be easily downloaded, consists of 4 new unique features, said the project head. The app has four new unique features, namely, Voter Slip, location of nearest booth, way to booth, and complaint through WhatsApp will assist the electorate in casting their votes easily than before, the app project head Ramayan added.

Launching the App, Chief Secretary O Nabakishore urged for free and fair polls in the state and underscored the necessity for all eligible electorate to participate in the two-phase elections in March. The function was organised by the Chief Electoral Officer, Manipur, and concluded with taking the pledge for National Voters’ Day and presentation of newly enrolled voters with Badges and Electronic Privacy Information Centre. Manipur goes to poll on March 4 and 8.

‘69% of political funds from unknown sources’

Association for Democratic Reforms says the income of national parties from unknown sources increased by 313%

By Devesh K. Pandey
The Hindu

NEW DELHI: JANUARY 24, 2017: The total income of national and regional political parties between 2004-05 and 2014-15 stood at ₹11,367 crore, with the highest of ₹3,982 crore being the Congress’s share. However, 69% of the income of these parties was from unknown sources, according to an analysis done by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The income of national parties from unknown sources increased by 313% during the decade; for the regional parties, it went up by 652%. The BSP is the only party which has got 100% of its income through donations from unknown sources. Its total income increased by 2,057%, from ₹5.19 crore during 2004-05 to ₹111.96 crore during 2014-15.

The ADR report, released on Tuesday, states that the details of donors pertaining only to ₹1,835.63 crore were available. The income from other known sources, such as the sale of assets, membership fees, bank interest, the sale of publications and party levy, was ₹1,698.73 crore, about 15% of the total.

While about 43% of the total income of six national parties was that of the Congress, the BJP stood second with ₹3,272.63 crore, just over 35%. The CPI(M) declared the third highest income of about ₹893 crore. “About 83% of the total income of the Congress, amounting to ₹3,323.39 crore, and 65% of total income of the BJP, amounting to ₹2,125.91 crore, came from unknown sources.”

Voluntary contributions
The total donations above ₹20,000 per entry, for which the national parties are to declare the sources, was about ₹1405.19 crore and the BJP topped the list for declaring the maximum of ₹918 crore voluntary contributions in the category. “The donations declared by the BJP are more than twice the donations declared by the Congress during the same period,” said the report.

The BSP has not reported any donation above ₹20,000 in the past 11 years, while the Nationalist Congress Party has not submitted its donations report to the Election Commission between 2004-05 and 2006-07. The Congress has declared donations of ₹400.32 crore.

I-T returns

According to the ADR, the Income-Tax returns of 42 of the 51 regional parties analysed were unavailable for at least one financial year. The total declared income of regional parties during the period stood at ₹2,089 crore, the highest being that of the Samajwadi Party at ₹819 crore, followed by the DMK with ₹203 crore and the AIADMK with ₹165 crore.

Based on the findings, the ADR has recommended that full details of all donors be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI.

“Some countries where this is done include Bhutan, Nepal, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, the United States and Japan. In none of these countries it it possible for almost 75% of the source of funds to be unknown, but at present it is so in India,” said the report, adding any organisation that receives foreign funding should not be allowed to support or campaign for any candidate or political party.

Tax exemption

Recently, the report mentioned that the Election Commission had recommended that tax exemption be awarded only to those political parties which contest and win seats in Lok Sabha or Assembly elections. The EC also suggested that details of all donors who donate above ₹2,000 be made public. Scrutiny of the political party’s financial documents should be conducted annually by a body approved by the EC and the Comptroller and Auditor General for greater transparency and accountability, the report said.

CM goes on the offensive against BJP; UNC is mouthpiece of IM : Ibobi

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 24 2017: Chief Minister Okram Ibobi has categorically stated that the United Naga Council is a mouthpiece of the NSCN-IM which is under a dialogue process with the Government of India. Addressing a press conference at the conference hall of the CM Secretariat this afternoon, Ibobi stated that he met Union Home Minister Rajnath when the UNC’s economic blockade was at the initial stage.

“I appealed Rajnath Singh to intervene for NSCN-IM is under a dialogue process with the Government of India and UNC is a mouthpiece of NSCN-IM. Besides pointing out that blockades are illegal, I made it clear that the State Government’s appeal to lift the blockade should not fall fall on deaf ears”, Ibobi conveyed.

The Union Home Minister responded that he would get the economic blockade lifted the next day if the State Government gives an assurance that Sadar Hills and Jiribam would not be declared as full fledged districts.

“I replied that creation of districts is an internal matter of the State. If new districts should be created, it would be done for administrative convenience. Leave aside NSCN-IM and UNC, no authority can dictate the State Government on such matters”, Ibobi recounted.

Nevertheless, the Chief Minister that the State Government is always ready to hold talks with all stake holders and the agitating group to resolve the issue of economic blockade. The State Government has written to the Union Home Ministry in this regard. However, as of now, no time frame has been intimated to the State Government. He continued that he again met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh together with Deputy Chief Minister recently. That time, the Union Home Minister did not speak much.

Yet, one Defence advisor and a Home Secretary asked about keeping vehicles off Imphal-Dimapur highway. But they never asked about deployment of Central paramilitary forces along Imphal-Jiribam highway and movement of trucks along the highway.Movement of trucks along Imphal-Dimapur highway has two problems.

First, drivers and transporters don’t want to travel along the highway despite the State Government’s assurance for ex-gratia of Rs 20 lakh and a Government job to the next of kin of any driver/transporter in case they meet any fatality while transporting goods along the highway. Secondly, army and Central paramilitary forces are ready to carry out only area domination exercises in their respective areas but they have been insisting that only the State police should deal with protest agitation by women and other groups that may result from any attempt to open the highway.

When womenfolk sit in the middle of the road and block the highway, State police can neither charge them with baton nor open fire. The State Government has no intention to unleash any form of violence, Ibobi stated. The NPF Government of Nagaland is backed by NSCN-IM and UNC, and the NPF Government is an ally of BJP, alleged Ibobi. NPF, NSCN-IM and UNC have been conspiring to destroy the integrity of Manipur.

They have been threatening intending candidates to contest the forthcoming election on NPF tickets or tickets of non-Congress parties but not on Congress ticket, further charged the Chief Minister. As such, many people have been forced to leave Congress party even though they love the party. This was testified by what Francis Ngajokpa said when he left Congress party, Ibobi continued. If the integrity of Manipur must be protected, people should always be wary of BJP.

Everyone witnessed to what happened in Manipur when Union Home Minister LK Advani of the previous NDA Government inserted the phrase ‘without territorial limits’ in the cease fire agreement the NDA Government signed with NSCN-IM, recalled Ibobi. If BJP and their State leaders sincerely love Manipur, they should divulge the details of the Framework Agreement signed between the Government of India and NSCN-IM. They must urge the Prime Minister to disclose the details of the Framework Agreement before joining BJP.

Cong Govt has failed: Bhabananda; BJP questions legitimacy of Ibobi Government

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 24 2017: Asserting that the incumbent Government is bereft of political will and has failed miserably in public administration, BJP Manipur Pradesh president Ksh Bhabananda has asked whether it’s not time for the Congress Government to resign. Speaking at a political rally held at Wabagai Keirak Keithel ground today under the aegis of BJP Kakching District, Bhabananda said that the Congress Government should stop blaming BJP when it cannot resolve the issue of economic blockade.

Saying that the Chief Minister has said or done nothing regarding the economic blockade, Bhabananda asked whether he is ruling the State or not. More and more people now abhor the irresponsible Congress Government and they have no right to continue in office.

BJP is fully confident that it would score landslide victories in all the five States which would be going to polls in the next couple of months. Massive participation in BJP’s election rallies is clear indication that more and more people now believe that there would be a BJP Government in the State. The recent recruitment drives were not about giving jobs. They were more about purchasing jobs, Bhabananda decried.

The incumbent Congress Government is Government of businessmen and they are not ruling the State. Bhabananda then appealed to the people to take money from Congress and vote for BJP. None of the Ministers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been tainted with corruption even though they have completed two years and a half in office.

Cong MLAs strongly refute ‘misleading news’: No plan to change party : Lokeshwor

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 24 2017: Manipur Legislative Assembly Speaker Th Lokeshwor has denied the information published in a daily newspaper which alleged that four MLAs including a Congress Minister might switch side to BJP, terming it false and misleading. Speaking to media persons at Manipur Legislative Assembly complex today, Th Lokeshwor said, “It is really unfortunate that such a misleading news was published without ascertaining its authenticity” .

Pointing out that switching parties was off the equation, he said, “It is saddening that such kind of baseless rumours were published as news”. He urged the concerned to determine the credibility and authencity of such news before publishing it in their newspaper.

Lokheshwor further requested all the organisations concerned to refrain from publishing such baseless items and assured that he had no intention of switching sides to any other political party.

Kakching MLA, Y Surchandra said, “All these rumours are baseless. If I get the Congress ticket, I will contest the election as Congress candidate. I have no plan to switch to another party” .

Commerce and Industry Minister, Govindash Kon-thoujam said that it would be better to check the source and credibility of a news before publishing it. He pointed out that they were not going to change sides just for their self interests. Speaking through telephone, Sekmai A/C MLA Kh Debendro also urged the people not to believe the rumours.

He urged the people not to be swayed by such baseless rumour aimed to stain the party’s image and assured that there were no plans to switch sides. Manipur Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker Preshaw Shimray, Khurai A/C MLA Dr Ng Bijoy, Parliamentary Secretary MOBC Amin Shah and Konthoujam A/C MLA K Sarat were also present at the meet.

Spurned BJP intending candidate speaks out

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 24 2017: Contending that internal rift and feud have become hallmarks of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the State, Khuraijam Loken who was preparing to contest the ensuing State Assembly election from Wangoi Assembly Constituency on BJP ticket said that various political parties have approached him to contest the election on their ticket after he failed to earn a slot in the first list of BJP candidates.

Addressing a political conference held at his Yumnam Huidrom Thiyam Leishangkhong residence yesterday, Loken said that he was not compelled to make the statement just because he failed to get the party ticket. He said that he has no intention to hurl allegations at the BJP from where he started his political career. There has been a feeling of discontent amongst the party’s senior members as preference for allotting the party ticket for the election has been given to new candidates, he lamented.

Loken mentioned that he will join another political party and fight the coming election to continue serving the people of Wangoi Constituency at his best level. He said that the people of Wangoi would not pardon the wrongdoings of BJP in allotment of ticket for the election.

Election campaign gaining momentum

The Sangai Express

Bishnupur, January 24 2017: As BJP has officially declared its first list of candidates for the upcoming Assembly election, intending candidates from Moirang AC have started campaigning strongly for their respective party, reports our correspondent. All the three intending candidates from Moirang AC local MLA M Prithviraj Singh, Th Shanti Singh and P Saratchandra Singh- have today undertaken campaign in various areas of the AC.

Th Shanti, Congress intending candidate, conducted a road show along Moirang Kokilbon-Moirang Ngangkha Leikai road. The campaign was joined by around 10 thousand supporters of Th Shanti. Local MLA M Prithviraj Singh also undertook a house campaign in Moirang Municipal Council Ward No 8. On the other hand, BJP intending candidate P Saratchandra Singh also conducted a house campaign in Moirang Municipal Council Ward No 6, 7 and 8

Does Manipur want another spell of Cong rule? The all important poser


The Sangai Express Editorial 25 January 2017
Does Manipur want another spell of Congress rule or will it go for a change come voting day on March 4 and March 8.

Tough to say but it is important to question whether such a thing as anti- incumbency will have a say on how the voters behave or not. This question is interesting in the face of the fact that unlike the last Assembly election in 2012, the Congress has a competitor this time, and a tough one at that in the BJP and it will be interesting to see how the party which has ruled the State for the last 15 years will try to extend their spell in power for another term and how successfully the saffron party will be able to ring out the message that the time for change has come.

As pointed out on more than one occasion, the longer the United Naga Council continue with the economic blockade, the better the prospect of the Congress will be and it will be interesting to see how the BJP will try not to make the economic blockade the deciding factor in the upcoming Assembly election. Blockade is not new to Manipur and remember when the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee and the United Naga Council, one after the other, imposed the more than 120 days of economic blockade over the Sadar Hills issue at the fag end of 2011.

That blockade did work in the favour of the Congress then if one takes into consideration the fact that the Congress returned with a thumping majority, winning 42 seats in the 2012 Assembly election. The more than 120 days economic blockade and the absence of a viable alternative to the Congress scripted the resounding success story of the Congress back in 2012, and the question is whether this will be repeated this time too.

Much will however depend on how the BJP manages to hammer home the point that the economic blockade cannot and should not be an election issue. This is where the interesting part lies and much will depend on the political acumen of the BJP leaders not to make the blockade an issue around which the poll should centre. Tough to say how the BJP will go about doing it, for remember the ongoing economic blockade has affected the daily existence of the common people and it is the voice of the common people which will ultimately matter the most when election time comes.

Apart from the blockade, the Congress will no doubt go to town with the message that the first list of the BJP candidates has numerous former Congress MLAs. It is not without reason why the slogan “Vote for BJP and elect your old Congress MLA” has gone viral on social networking sites. Again it is this which the BJP has to counter. Interesting days are certainly ahead.

Sticking on UNC’s issues will only benefit Congress

Imphal Times Editorial 25 January 25 2017
What was witness in the last fifteen years of Congress rule in the state is not an issue for the upcoming Manipur legislative Assembly election. Corruption, nepotism, human rights violations and of course the controversial Armed Forces Special Power Act, (AFSPA), 1958 seems like to be of no concern to the people. It is the economic blockade that is sweeping mind of the people who will hand over the power to govern the state for five years. UNC’s prolonged economic blockade is the core issue of the upcoming assembly election.

People as well as political parties have now stopped discussing about the misgovernance, corruption or human rights violation, but everyone is driven to the issues encircling around UNC’s economic blockade. Everyday discussion hours in local televisions are about the UNC’s blockade. Congress party blames BJP and the BJP blames Congress for the UNC’s unsettle problems. Even the Manipur High Court had summoned top officials of the Law Enforcers over their inability to open the National Highway 2.

With media or public platform flooded by words of critique to the UNC’s prolonged economic blockade, something that is coming up to the public spare is that the UNC’s issue cannot be suppressed by force. This is known to both BJP and the Congress. But both the parties keep continuing to play their game sideling the fact that the UNC’s problem can be only solved through politically. It is an open secret that the agenda of the UNC is the Frame work agreement signed between the NSCN-IM and the India Government in August last year.

Following the signing of the Framework agreement, the NSCN-IM collective leadership has been propagating the Naga dominated area of the state convincing the public about the creation of an administration where all Nagas as claimed by the NSCN-IM can be put under one administrative unit. District creation by the Manipur government is not the root of the UNC’s economic blockade. But it is rather the disruption of the dream being built up by the NSCN-IM.

Remember 9 days before the Government of Manipur had announced the 7 new revenue district, the UNC has already called total shut down along the National Highways for two days and later followed the economic blockade from midnight of October 31 last year. Talk about potential agitation demanding new district creations spread like wild fire, but there was no official indication of the Government preparing the announcement of the creation of the seven new district.

When NSCN-IM can still gain massive supports from certain sections of people, it is not right to underestimate the outfit. Even a layman knows that the issues of the UNC can only be settled through dialogue. Then why the center instead of initiating a dialogue throws the ball to the court of the state government. Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh who had rule the state for 15 years is more experience I handling issues of Manipur and the more the center blame he got more advantage.

Before the economic blockade started, it was about the rampant corruption, mass appointment to the government department which has been major election agenda. It is at this point that, we the voters of the state now need to understand why every political parties particularly the BJP and the Congress are sidelining all issues but playing game with the UNC blockade. A senior BJP leader while speaking to a public meeting had once said that announcement of the economic blockade will only brought catastrophe to the state.

The statement was true but in electoral politics the UNC’s agenda is not a factor that will get majority seat in the 60 assembly constituencies. National BJP leaders seems to have forgotten that appeasing the UNC will only mean only some seat in NSCN-IM control assembly constituencies which is not more than 5. When Congress Strongman Okram Ibobi Singh knows that to form government in the center there is nothing wrong in ignoring UNC issue.

It cannot be denied that , Manipur’s safety is priority for all and playing politics without understanding that no force across the globe can distort the boundary of Manipur. (Prof. N. Sanajaoba) A sincere appealed to other political party particularly the BJP other than the Congress party is than divert the issue, talk UNC through NSCN-IM and advice them to end the economic blockade and then start taking up issues of corruption, and the mass appointment of government employees in the government department. It is not that Imphal Times support BJP but Imphal Times suggest because handing of power to a single person for four terms will make no difference than a dictator. The beauty of democracy may lose its significance.

AMWJU warns political parties

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 23

The All Manipur Working Journalist Union (AMWJU) warned the political parties and candidates of the coming Manipur Assembly Election not to bribe the reporters for news coverage by paying money. Addressing a press meet held today at the Manipur Press Club Majorkhul, Imphal AMWJU president Wangkhemcha Samjai said that press is considered as the fourth estate. He said that yesterday some ticket protester in front of BJP office gave Rs 200 asking to publish their news in front page to reporters who came to cover the news in front of the public.

He added that payment to reporters for news coverage should not be happen in the future and not to repeat such unwanted things. AMWJU general secretary Jit Ningombam further supplemented that if any political parties, candidates or any organisations found paying to reporters for news coverage along with evidence then AMWJU will complain to Election Commission of India as well as take up necessaries action according to the law including the reporter.

He added that if anyone wants to help the media, they can help in the development works of the media instead of paying for news coverage. Manipur Press Club secretary Sarojkumar Sharma said that Reliance Jio is offering free Wi-Fi connection at the press club for the convenience of the journalists which will be installed very soon. He added that the company is also in the process to sponsor jacket and caps for the journalists.

Airlifting of goods hailed

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 23

The central government led by Narendra Modi has begun airlifting of petroleum products and essential commodities in view of the extended economic blockade, according to BJP MLA Th Biswajit Singh. Speaking in a press meet held at his Sanjenthong quarter State BJP General Secretary Th Biswajit said that the centre has taken up many developmental projects for the state which Congress failed to take up in the past 20 years.

He said that the NDA Government has sanctioned Rs 9658 crores for the railway project with the target to complete by 2019. For the connectivity of all the capitals of North Eastern States of India through broad-gauge NDA government has sanctioned 7000 Crores with the target to complete in the year 2019.

He said that the Congress government should be thankful of all these development projects and to stop blaming central government for the unrest in the state. BJP MLA Th Biswajit charged state Assembly speaker Th Lokeshwar Singh saying that he is unable to understand developmental projects carried out for the state.

It’s official: BJP first list out

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 23

Four former Congressmen who deserted the party appeared in the list as BJP officially released the first list of candidates with 31 names to contest in the 11th Legislative Assembly Election 2017, today. The list was released on BJP’s official website today by the Central Election Committee of the party. The release said that the Central Election Committee which convened a meeting on January 19 with national president Amit Shah in the chair cleared the names.

The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh, Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley, and other members of the Central Election Committee of the BJP. A source from the BJP said that the list was prepared based on winnability after meticulous calculation by the committee. There have been slight changes in the list when compared to earlier list of 32 candidates released through social networking sites unofficially. The release of the unofficial list created a ruckus in constituencies where there were over two intending BJP candidates.

On June 20, supporters of Chunngkham Bijoy Singh, an intending candidate of BJP, from Patsoi protested in front of BJP office. There were three BJP intending candidates in Patsoi namely Bijoy, Premananda and Patsoi Keba. Of them, the Premanda made it to the list. Protest against this decision was also staged before the BJP Manipur office gate yesterday. The four former Congressmen who got BJP tickets three were former Ministers in Ibobi’s government, namely N Biren Singh, Y Irabot Singh and Francis Ngajokpa and a former MLA, Z Kikhonbou Newmai.

Y Irabot Singh, even while he was in the Ibobi’s government was considered a bitter rival of the chief minister and bad blood always marked relationship between the two. Y Irabot Singh was the first to take the bold decision of leaving the Congress to join the BJP fold. N Biren Singh, who followed in the footsteps of Y Irabot was a major player in dissident group of the Congress.

Both, Irabot and Biren were cabinet ministers during the first two terms of Ibobi regime and later were leaders of dissident groups of the Congress demanding mid-term re-shuffle in Ibobi’s cabinet. Francis Ngajokpa, the rural development and panchayati raj minister in the early part of the current Ibobi regime, was sacked during the last re-shuffle. Just few months after he was dropped from the cabinet, he also joined the BJP. Kikhonbou Newmai, quit Congress when United Naga Council (UNC) banned congress MLAs and minister including Chief Minister from entering in Naga territories for creating seven new districts. He was also the vice chairman of the Hills Areas Committee (HAC).
Surprisingly, the BJP has bent its standing policy of not issuing tickets to candidates above 75 years of age in the context of Manipur, with Y Irabot and Th Chaoba, who have crossed the age limit, making it to the list. Another interesting candidate in the list is former IPS officer Th Radhesyam Singh, who will be contesting from Heirok assembly constituencies. Radhesyam, retired from as IPS amidst controversies of irregularities in recruitment of police constable in Manipur police department conducted in 2013.

He was the chairman of the recruitment board instructed to recruit 2000 male police constables. After conducting necessary physical test, 10,287 candidates were declared eligible for the interview but the interview was halted by the Home Department after detecting irregularities in earlier recruitment process. A case is pending with the High Court of Manipur regarding the case.


CM responsible for blockade : BJP MLA

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 23 2017: Coming down heavily on the Ibobi-led Congress Government in the State, general secretary of BJP Manipur Pradesh Th Biswajit alleged that it is due to the present Government’s bleak policy that United Naga Council (UNC) is continuing with its indefinite economic blockade on National Highways, causing immense hardships to the people.

Addressing newspersons at his official quarters at Sanjenthong this evening, Bishwajit who is also the MLA of Thongju Assembly Constituency cautioned that the Government should take sole responsibility for any untoward incident arising out of the prolonged blockade. Dismissing the claim made by Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly, Th Lokeshwar during a political conference held at Laipham Khunou yesterday that BJP Government at the Centre is not trying enough to end the blockade, he asked as to why the Congress Government sent a report to the Centre on the blockade only on November 11 .

The indefinite economic blockade began from November 1 of last year. What was the State Government doing during the ten days, he wondered. The MLA contended that the crisis over the blockade worsened after Chief Minister O Ibobi inaugurated seven new districts. Instead of trying to bring UNC to the negotiating table to end the blockade, CM Ibobi tried to gain political mileage by claiming that he was attacked while going to inaugurate the new districts in Naga areas, he said.

Reiterating that the Central Governemnt had already sent adequate security forces to the State to ensure the free supply of goods, Bishwajit reminded that people have witnessed economic blockade when there was UPA Government at the Centre and Congress Government at the State.

The MLA claimed he along with president of BJP Manipur Pradesh K Bhabananda, convenor of State Election Management Committee Th Chaoba and spokesperson N Biren had urged Central leaders including the Prime Minister and Home Minister to intervene.

JD (U) releases manifesto Party to go alone in all 60 seats

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 23 2017: As election campaign is continuing in full swing, Janata Dal (United) Manipur State Unit today released its election manifesto at its office located at New Checkon Hatta. The programme was also attended by Limjalet Haokip, vice president, JD(U) Manipur State Unit, M Dorendro, secretary general, JD(U) Manipur State Unit, H Rabikanta, general secretary (organisation), JD(U) Manipur State Unit, N Romabati, general secretary, JD(U) Manipur State Unit Mahila Women Wing and Y Jutin, president, JD(U) Manipur State Unit Youth Front.

Speaking at the programme, M Dorendro said that as the party has released the election manifesto today, the party would also like the public to know that JD(U) Manipur State Unit will not tie up with any political party in the upcoming Assembly election and that the party will field its candidates in all 60 ACs.

He also informed that the Central Committee meeting held in January 14 has resolved not to tie up with any political party in the State Assembly election. “We will follow the instruction of JD(U) National leaders,” he reaffirmed.

The party has also started issuing application forms to the intending candidates with February 7 as the last date. So far, 11 intending candidates have obtained the application forms, he added.

The 9-point manifesto promises alternative lifeline for transportation of goods to the State through Bishnupur or Churachandpur via Pherzawl or Nungba and Jiribam district. It also assured to invite all the stakeholders to the negotiating table for an amicable, non-communal and permanent settlement of insurgency problems, implementing reservation of 33 per cent of seats for women in both the State Legislative Assembly and Autonomous District Councils and 50 per cent of seats in both Zilla Parishad and local bodies.

The manifesto also promised to set up more universities in the State especially in the hill districts and a special project to solve the shortage of potable water. The party said that it will introduce a pension/allowance scheme at the rate of Rs 3000 per month for the educated unemployed youth so as to discourage the youth from indulging in anti-social activities and enhance the pension scheme rate for widows and widowers to Rs 1000 per head. The manifesto further promised to introduce a comprehensive and highly productive farming system and enforce a complete ban on liquor and other intoxicating substances in the State.

No women, only one Muslim in BJP’s 1st list

The Sangai Express

Guwahati, January 23 2017: The BJP on Monday released its first list, comprising names of 31 candidates, for the two-phase Manipur elections scheduled for March 4 and 8. Three former Manipur Congress Ministers, N Biren Singh, Yumkham Erabot Singh and Francis Ngajokpa; two former Congress MLAs Dr Kh Loken and Z Kikhonbou Newmai, and Congress leader Dr S Ranjan were among the candidates, whose names were announced on Monday.

Interestingly, there is no woman candidate in BJP’s first list. Also, it contained the name of just one Muslim, Md Anwar Hussain. Muslims account for 6 % of Manipur’s around 26 lakh population.

According to BJP sources, the names of the remaining 29 candidates will be announced on January 27. Nemcha, Valte to join BJP tomorrow: Former Congress MLAs Nemcha Kipgen and Vungzagin Valte and the party’s vice president S Achouba, who resigned on Sunday, would join the BJP on Wednesday.

Congress plus a cow

Imphal Free Press editorial, 24 Jan 2017

The BJP has released its first list of 31 candidates today. The list was more or less known a week earlier when the party leaked it as a tentative list to the media and today’s list was virtually the same. As was expected, the BJP is building a team largely out of defectors from other parties, in particular from the ruling Congress as this first list indicates. No points for guessing that the party will be angling for more defectors, again from the ruling Congress, which undoubtedly is one of the biggest reasons for declaring only half its total candidatures in the 60 member house today. As rumours have it, there are even some cabinet ministers from the Okram Ibobi government waiting in line, and this too was expected. In the last three terms of the Congress government under chief minister Ibobi, except for a few very senior ministers, the practice has been to award ministerial berths by rotation after each of the terms. This time too, there is unlikely to be much break from this tradition and hence it is only to be expected that many minor ministers in the current Ibobi cabinet would like to look for greener pastures elsewhere, and if the BJP offers them this pasture, they would probably jump into its fold. For the ruling party however, this award of ministerial berths by rotation has been a successful formula to keep the Congress flock together so why would the Congress leadership want to change it now. If it did so and indicated it would retain the same ministers in its next cabinet (if at all), second rung leaders of the party now waiting to replace those who have had a taste of cabinet berth, would get rebellious and probably defect. In this sense, this tradition has been more a compulsions of political survival rather than consideration of good governance. Let us elaborate a little more.

We all know the Anti-Defection Law has put a ceiling of 15 per cent of the strength of the House on the size of the council of ministers in the Assembly as well as the Parliament. For small states like Manipur, this has been relaxed a little to bring up the absolute number to 12, including the chief minister. This means, any chief minister will have just 11 ministers to induct in his cabinet. This is quite unlike the pre-Anti Defection Law days when practically everybody in the ruling party was in the council of ministers, either as cabinet minister or else state ministers. In a place like Manipur where politics is no longer much of a public service, but reduced to an instrument of personal aggrandisement, every politician’s ambition is to have a lever of state power and a key to the state exchequer. Under the circumstance, 12 ministerial berths are too few for any ruling party to keep every ambitious MLA happy and therefore be free of dissidents and defectors. Once upon a time, before the 10th Schedule (which contains the Anti-Defection Law) introduced by the 52nd amendment of the Constitution in 1985 was conceived of, MLAs unhappy with his or her parent party could defect to another party of his choice without any problem. Those were the days when governments were never steady and were perpetually held at ransom by dissidents. Today MLAs cannot switch sides easily though legislative parties can merge with each other if a majority of the MLAs consent to do so (as it happened in Arunachal Pradesh). Politicians can however switch sides without attracting the 10th Schedule if they do so before the elections (as it happened in Assam and is happening in Manipur now).

BJP loyalist for long, and now a dissenter, former journalist and author of repute, Arun Shourie’s caricature of the BJP probably is a perfect picture of the BJP Manipur. He described the BJP as “Congress plus a cow”. Indeed, at this moment, with flocks of ex-Congress politicians filling up its ranks and files, the BJP and the Congress are beginning to increasingly look like each other. If there were alternatives to these two parties, not only credible but also capable of forming a stable government on their own, probably a lot of people would have opt for them. Perhaps a third front of smaller parties with commitment to broad-based, liberal ideology and to the people they pledge to serve, is the need of the hour. A drubbing by such a federation would have been good lesson for those in these bigger parties who have patronised and institutionalised ideology-devoid, self-serving politics, thereby ruining not only politics, but also people’s faith in politics.

Lokeshore blames Centre

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 22

Speaker of Manipur Legislative assembly Th Lokeshore has laid the blame for the continuation of UNC economic blockade to the central government. He was speaking during a one day political conference of Heingang Block Mahila Congress Committee. The political conference was organised by Heingang Block Mahila Congress Committee held today at Mitong Lampak of Laipham Khunou.

Concerned over the prolonged economic blockade in the State, Lokeshwar said that it is high time for the central government to intervene and end this economic blockade. Heingang Constituency is inhabited with different communities of the State. He lauded N Ratan Singh who is more popularly known as Kapu that he is capable maintaining peaceful co existence of the all the communities.

Further lamenting recent frequent visits from Union Ministers into the state, Speaker Lokeshwar said that the union Ministers has actually failed to bring peace in the state. He said that BJP National leaders have never brought good for the state.

The political conference was also attended by Kakching MLA Y Surchandra, Thanga MLA T Mangibabu, Khurai MLA Ng Bijoy, President Mahila Morcha MPCC L Tilotama, Heingang besides N Ratan Singh alias Kapu and other congress workers.

MNDF raises regionalism

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL| Jan 22

Manipur National Democratic Front (MNDF) today organised a one day political conference under the theme ‘regionalism is the need of hour to save Manipur’. The public discourse was held at Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai Community Hall under 12 Keishamthong assembly constituency of Imphal West.

Panelists said, national political parties simply do not take interest in safeguarding integrity, development, prosperity of the state. Giving the key note of the conference, Lein Gangte, Vice President of the party asked people to think over the reasons behind the fall of regional parties in the state while it is progressing in many other big states of India.

No national party will be able to understand or love or care the ground situation of the problems prevailing in the state nor they will be able to or try to solve the problem as a regional party does, he claimed. Reiterating the question of integrity among different communities in the state, he urged for building up of regional ethos and mindset other than doing mere politics based on high commands’ interest stationed at Delhi.

He also highlighted that people of Manipur need new history and new life where there has no compromise in integrity; there is emotional bondage among hill and valley people; where there is no politics in ethnicities.

Bijoy Koijam, working president, MNDF, Ch Priyokumar, president, MNDF and other party members attended the conference. Meanwhile Yumnam Romola Devi was announced as the party candidate for Keishamthong Assembly Constituency during the discussion.

PRJA session

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 22

The Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) has conducted a public meeting with the elders and youths of Yumnam Leikai and Sinam Leikai today at Malem Ima Community Hall, Thangmeiband Yumnam Leikai, Imphal. PRJA convenor Erendro Leichombam shared his vision and hope of creating a powerful anti corruption state and to bring the real democracy in the state.

Erendro said that the state has been contaminated by the dirty political system so PRJA political party was formed to empower ourselves politically and clean up those corrupt and unwanted system in the state. The participation of youth in politics can build peace and bring corruption free development in the state, he said.

He added that we cannot expect any changes in our system if we choose the corrupt leaders by selling out our precious votes. He further added that, “by choosing the correct leader who can sacrifice for the welfare of the state, we can easily change our corrupt and unjust system and bring all round development in the state”.

Erendro also urged to the candidates of Thangmeiband Assembly Constituency to agree for an open public debate to allow a democratic way for the people of Thangmeiband to make an informed decision before casting their valuable votes.

ADC Chandel denounces district creation

Newmai News Network
IMPHAL | Jan 22

The members of Autonomous District Council (ADC), Chandel hailing from NPF have strongly denounced the ‘unconstitutional’ creation of seven new districts by the O Ibobi Singh led Congress government. The ADC members alleged that without a single notification or even consulting the people of the respective district the announcement of the cabinet decision was made. They said such move of the government is ‘very questionable’ at this time of ‘chaos and mistrust’ between different communities.

The ADC members said they took this as a ‘devilish’ political game plan of O Ibobi led Congress government for the ensuing assembly election to win the sympathy of the valley people.

The ADC members from NPF then said they also strongly condemned the ‘unlawful detention’ of UNC president Gaidon Kamei and information secretary SK Stephen. They appealed for unconditional release of the two UNC leaders so as to create a conducive atmosphere for holding the tripartite talk between Governme t of India, Manipur Government and UNC.

Official announcement likely soon : BJP MLA

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 22 2017: Lone BJP MLA Thongam Bishworjit has stated that names of BJP candidates for the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election have been finalised and their names would be officially announced in the next couple of days. Speaking to media persons at their Nityaipat Chuthek office today, Th Bishworjit who is also BJP Manipur Pradesh general secretary (administration) said that some more Congress Ministers/MLAs may join BJP and they may be given party tickets.

A meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Board has been held with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah. BJP is the biggest political and well-disciplined party and it has its own set of rules regarding issuance of tickets, Bishworjit said. The first batch of BJP candidates may be announced from Delhi in the next couple of days.

This would be followed by another announcement from BJP Manipur Pradesh. The second batch of BJP candidates would be announced later. There is no internal crisis regarding selection of candidates, Bishworjit claimed. Aspiring candidates may have grievances when they are not given party tickets. Yet there is an understanding among all BJP members and workers to work together whether one gets ticket or not in order to defeat the ruling Congress party, the BJP MLA said.

He also appealed to all aspiring candidates not to raise any uproar because they are not given party tickets. People would certainly see fragmentation of the ruling party into pieces in the next couple of days. It is the Congress party which has developed the largest crack, Bishworjit claimed.

Discontent brewing in BJP over ticket distribution

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 22 2017: The announcement of tickets by BJP has led to discontent among a section of its workers. Hiyanglam, Wangkhem and Thoubal AC BJP Mandal workers today stormed the BJP office at Nityaipat Chuthek at around 11:30 am holding placards inscribed with slogans like, “We want just selection”, “Select candidate on merit basis”, “We condemn BJP Ticket Committee”, etc.

There were discontent among the party workers when the unofficial list of candidates for the forthcoming State Assembly Election was announced recently. Some of the party worker have claimed that the Ticket Committee has totally disregarded the hard works and dedications of some of its workers and allotted party tickets to new members.

Demanding the State BJP leaders to explain their conduct, large number of Hiyanglam, Wangkhem and Thoubal AC BJP Mandal workers today tried to storm the BJP office with a hope to meet the party leaders. They were stopped by the Police who explained that Sunday is an off day for the office.

Speaking to media persons, BJP Thoubal AC Mandal worker Leishangthem Thaja said aspiring BJP candidate Leishangthem Suresh is the only qualified BJP candidate in the AC that has a chance against the Chief Minister.

Questioning why the party ticket was allotted to Leitanthem Bhim, Thaja said, not only is Bhim new to the party, he does not have required qualification to contest as the BJP candidate.

Two Cong MLAs likely to join BJP

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 22 2017: Even as the finalised first list of BJP candidates for the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election has been published in the media, two Congress MLAs are likely to join BJP and fight the forthcoming election on BJP tickets. The two Congress MLAs who are likely to fight the forthcoming election on BJP tickets are Nemcha Kipgen (Kangpokpi AC) and Vungzagin Valte (Thanlon AC), sources informed.

Nemcha Kipgen was elected in the 10th State Assembly election on MSCP ticket but MSCP later merged with the Congress along with all their elected MLAs. Vungzagin Valte elected from Thanlon AC on Congress ticket is also a Parliamentary Secretary under the Ibobi Government. Regarding the proposed entry of Vungzagin and Nemcha into the party, BJP held a meeting at Guwahati yesterday with National general secretary Ram Madhav.

The meeting decided to recommend the names of Nemcha and Vungzagin to the party’s Parliamentary Board for issuing party tickets, said the sources. As such, it is expected that Vungzagin and Nemcha would definitely get BJP tickets.

Art contest held to educate voters

Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL | Jan 22

Chief electoral officer’s office, in association with two other organisations held a painting competition in Imphal today to increase voter awareness as a part of the Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) campaign. The organisers claimed that today’s painting competition is the “longest art competition” to increase voter awareness on participation and ethnical voting.

Editors Guild, Manipur and Neo Gene, an art organisation, are partners in organising the competition which was held on the theme “Free, fair and peaceful election and ethical voting.”

Nearly 900 contestants including school and college students took part in the competition held on flax canvas which measures 1.5 km on the bank of Kangla moat around Kangla fort, A Mobi, president of Editors Guild Manipur said.

UNC leaders blame Ibobi

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 22

Former presidents of United Naga Council (UNC) squarely blamed Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh for the ongoing economic blockade.

“The economic blockade was initiated by the Chief Minister. Only his wisdom and realization can stop it,” a statement jointly signed by former UNC presidents KS Paul Leo, Samson Remei and L Adani said.

The statement said there are four MoUs with Manipur government and Naga organizations on that creation of new districts would not be done without consulting the stakeholders. There is also an assurance from the Centre, based on the declaration of Ibobi in the presence of the Union home minister, Chidambaram and UNC that such sentiment would be respected.

“The stakeholders are those whose lives, land, livelihood, situation and opportunities would be affected by such decision. This position is democratic, fair and constitutional. These MOUs and assurance did not emerge from the magnanimity of the government of Manipur but each of them was extracted with agitations and with self inflicted pains,” the statement said.

The issue of land is very dear to the tribals and Nagas. Land gives them their identity. Their culture, way of life and value system, evolves from our relationship with the land. Land is their present and land is our future, the statement said.

The Chief Minister is on record stating that land belongs to the state and not to any community, going against the very spirit and letter of Article 371 C of the Constitution which clearly gives cognizance to the land rights of the tribals in Manipur state. He has also gone on to state that there are no Nagas in the Manipur, negating, their identity that has evolved through history, land and political consciousness, it said.

At the fag end of his present tenure with barely few months left, Ibobi chose to desecrate the MOUs and assurance, knowing fully that extreme protest will follow, social divides will aggravate and people will suffer, the release said.

“What noble purpose inspired this man and his government to create not only two districts which have been vehemently opposed but seven districts on a midnight drawing lines that would divide peoples that would alienate people from their ancestral domain and disturb peaceful co-existence of communities.

“We also vividly remember that towards the end of 2011, Ibobi had enacted the same stunt with regard to declaration of Sardar Hills district before facing the 2012 state assembly election and he came back for another 5 years to “create havoc” in the lives of the people of the state,” the release said.

It further said the tragedy is that the people of Manipur, especially the intellectuals have not questioned him. He has been accepted as the champion of a community, which has been subtly engineered to differentiate the others from their interest. He is truly the Chief Minister of his own and not of the entire people of the state.

Playing blockade politics ahead of polls Scheduled talk with UNC

The Sangai Express editorial, 23 Jan 2017

Centre chiding the State Government for failing to open National Highway-2, the route that connects the State to Dimapur and further, despite deputing a large number of security personnel. State Government telling for one and all to hear that enough pressure has not been mounted by the Centre on the United Naga Council via the NSCN (IM) to get the ongoing economic blockade lifted. On the surface both sides have their own merits. And it is at this point of time that the stand of the Transporters’ and Drivers’ Council (TDC) becomes relevant and extremely important. Would do well for all to listen to what the drivers have had to say. Not surprisingly their stand is a big no to taking NH-2 and herein lies a story, a story worth looking at with all the seriousness it deserves. Let it be very clear to Delhi that escorting heavily loaded trucks and fuel laden vehicles through this route is fraught with danger and the unseen and unpredictable. Also remember that NH-2 passes through the stronghold of the United Naga Council and any trucks trying to pass through this highway with security escorts will definitely come under heavy attack. If the goods laden trucks travelling with heavy security escorts along this route come under heavy attack, be sure that the security personnel will also retaliate and the outcome can only be imagined. It is this which the TDC wants to avoid and not risk their drivers passing through this extremely hazardous National Highway.

If the creation of the seven new districts, which has led to the current blockade, is seen as a political gamble played by the Congress Government ahead of the Assembly election, then the stand of the Centre in urging the State Government to get NH-2 opened with the use of security personnel may also be seen as another political move ahead of the Assembly election. Either way it stinks. Moreover remember the people who will be out on the National Highway to enforce the blockade will be ordinary village folks, directed by the UNC and other ‘powerful organisations’ to do their bidding. The risk factor is high, very high and this is where the stand of the TDC becomes important. Other than this, there is nothing much to suggest that the Centre has done anything to use its office and contact the UNC to get the blockade lifted. Caught in the middle of the politicking are the common people. It is against this background that the State Government, the UNC and the Centre will head towards the tripartite talk anytime in the future at New Delhi. Gaidon Kamei and Shankhel Stephen have been jailed, but Kamei will lead the UNC delegates in the tripartite talk and with the UNC not showing any indication that the blockade may be lifted, the people will just have to wait and see how the scheduled talk proceeds.

The Hand Or The Lotus? – A Thought For The Electorate

By Seram Neken
Imphal Free Press

No political party in Manipur is now seen engaging itself in election campaign, in the real sense of the term. In fact, the political parties and their heavyweights are putting their valued pre-poll time and energy, not in wooing voters but in calculating winnable candidates for the upcoming general elections. Campaign to educate and motivate the public on a variety of issues is quite absent in Manipur. Political leaders of the three polarized camps – Congress, BJP and the third front, have put their heads together in separate camps for strategic political maneuvering that may encourage horse-trading with the record highest bids. ‘Old wine in new bottle’ will definitely be the next government of Manipur, whether it be under the Hand or the Lotus symbols. The Manipur government may be of the BJP or the Congress, but those in it will be the same old personalities.

As a major political party, the Indian National Congress (or the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee) appears to be a bit relaxed after the sudden move of district formation which has unexpectedly turned out to be a boon for the ruling Okram Ibobi led Congress party. The Congress party, which was supposed to be ailing with the high-fever of anti-incumbency for its much-talked about mis-governance, bribery, high degree of nepotism, and inherent VVIPism, appears to have startlingly earned a purchased popularity to the extent that even the hill people have begun to shout “Long live Ibobi” in some places like Kangpokpi, Pherzol, Tengnoupal, Noneh and Kamjong districts. It is for sure that no incumbency or otherwise factor of the INC will influence the electorate of the newly formed seven districts including Jiribam and Kakching. Maximum number of Congress candidates is likely to be voted from these new districts, as against the so called BJP-Wave or NaMo-wave sweeping across India.

As for the valley dwellers, the major election agendum will be on the prolonged economic blockade sponsored by the bête noire United Naga Council. The public perception being the inherent nexus between the UNC, NSCN(IM) and Government of India (or the BJP) arising out of the framework agreement signed between the Modi Government and the negotiating NSCN(IM) at the dawn of the current NDA dispensation at the centre, the commonmen in valley districts are likely to hate the BJP at any cost. The chronology of events from Ukhrul firing on Chief Minister’s visit, UNC’s prolonged economic blockade, involvement of armed NSCN(IM) cadres in the blockade, Tengnoupal attacks on state forces near the security posts, arms snatching from state forces in Noneh and further violence in the hills have amplified the public notoriety towards the UNC, which may adversely affect the prospect of BJP candidates. The former BJP legislature party chief Kh Joykishan deserting party to join the Congress was also a factor for diminishing BJP’s strength in Manipur.

On the other hand, the BJP being the ruling party at the centre with its charismatic NaMo personality, has embraced numerous prospective candidates in its fold without pondering over the likely consequences on its organization. Subsequently, the state BJP now seems to be in a difficult situation to decide the candidates for the upcoming polls in a number of assembly constituencies. Besides the controversy for ticket allotment, the BJP in Manipur also appears to be down with public detestation on the demonetization issue. However, there is no reason for BJP’s downfall in Manipur, if the state BJP leaders set the right agenda before the voters.

At this critical juncture, the BJP leaders need to devise a different campaign strategy to motivate the voters with its development initiatives taken up by the Narendra Modi government at the centre. People should be convinced that economic growth in the state will be more viable when the centre-state relations are cordial. The general public needs to be convinced of the likely financial crunch in the state that may arise out of state-centre dichotomy when the BJP does not rule Manipur. Only the agenda of economic growth coupled with a pledge for minimal corruption and nepotism can boost the BJP’s prospect in Manipur in the ensuing general elections. It needs to make a pledge for rooting out corruption, bribery and VIPism which rated the fifteen years of Congress regime.

Of course there is public apprehension at certain quarters that Manipur’s integrity may be affected when BJP comes to power in Manipur. However, it is also well established that such issues as Naga Integretation, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Inner Line Permit System and the like have flourished for long under various regimes. No political party or no politician have sincerely attempted to solve even a fraction of the problem, and no party whether it is Congress or the BJP or any other, will do in future. Therefore, it is nonsense to presume that a particular political party will ever break Manipur.

Everybody knows that the issues of Manipur’s integrity should in no way hinder the BJP’s prospect of winning seat in Manipur, because no politician in Manipur whether belonging to BJP, Congress or any other will allow the compromise of state’s integrity. State government, be it either under BJP or the Congress, will obviously defend the integrity of Manipur. It is time to think of economic development, rather than of other stray issues, which all the time haunt the Manipur society. The people of Manipur have witnessed for long that issues like AFSPA, ILP, Naga Integretation, so on and so forth are quite unfit to be election agendas, because every political party and every politician has set aside such issues after elections. So, people are now fed up with such household words in election manifestoes and election promises of our politicians.

For the Congress, the election agenda is state’s Integrity and for the BJP, it must be economic growth with clean governance. At this hour the voters must also ask themselves two questions: Which political party – the BJP or the Congress, will be able to effect economic prosperity for its poor millions by establishing sustainable growth ? Which political party or political leaders is/are ready for maximum sacrifice, minimal bribery and corruption to bring about clean governance ?