Imphal, April 17 (IANS): The political fate of 11 candidates, including Manipur’s former top official, a popular film actor and a Left candidate supported by the constituent of the BJP-led ruling alliance, will be at stake when the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha constituency goes to the polls in the second phase of polling on Thursday. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has again nominated R.K. Ranjan Singh, who unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, while the Congress has replaced its sitting MP Thokchom Meinya with former Chief Secretary O. Nabakishore.
Meghalaya’s ruling National People’s Party (NPP), which is a leading coalition partner in Manipur with all its four legislators serving as Ministers including Yumnam Joykumar as the Deputy Chief Minister, has tied up with the Communist Party of India (CPI) a week before the polls began on April 11 and is supporting its candidate, M. Nara. “I have contested 12 elections. I find this election, which is likely to be my last, to be the happiest one. “I am penniless and depend mostly on crowd funding. Several lakhs of rupees are being donated by the people. If I get elected, I shall not fail them and will fight for their various problems,” Nara said.
Meanwhile, the Congress is making all efforts to retain the Inner Manipur seat. It has been attacking the BJP on various issues, particularly the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which had raised a furore in the northeast. “BJP is trying to woo the voters with imaginary issues such as the hill and valley divide. Despite the agitations, BJP leaders have been announcing in public meetings that the Centre shall implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 by July. “People in the northeast states have agitated fearing being swamped by the people who will be allowed to migrate and settle (in the region). The people who are against this Bill shall not vote for the BJP,” state Congress chief Gaikhangam said.
Though Chief Minister N. Biren Singh has contended that the Bill is not against the northeast region with a clause to protect the people of Manipur to be added and that he would be the first to resign if it goes against the interest of the people, Congress legislature and former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has quipped that “it will be immaterial whether Biren resigns or not”. Manipuri film actor R.K. Somorendro, who is fighting as an Independent candidate, has asserted that he would fight for Manipur’s issues “without restrictions from the high commands and that is why I am an Independent”. However, he faced a major setback on Tuesday when film personalities led by singer-actor Boney-M and R.K. Hemabati went around the Women’s Market canvassing for the BJP candidate, instead of supporting him.
Explaining their choice, Boney-M said that they were supporting the BJP candidate as gratitude for the Manipur Film Policy Act. R.K. Anand, who resigned from the Congress, last month along with four other ex-MLAs, is the candidate for North East India Development Party (NEIDP). “An aggressive local party alone could champion the cause of the people and that is why I am contesting from this party,” Anand said. All preparations have been made for Thursday’s polling and election officials have left Imphal for the different polling stations on Wednesday, officials said. Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) P.K. Singh said that steps have been taken for an incident-free polling on Thursday. Polling for Manipur’s other seat — Outer Manipur (reserved) — was held on April 11 in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections.