Manipur Election 2017: 38 seats go to poll in first phase on 4 March, many Congress bigwigs in fray

During campaigning, there were bitter exchanges between the Congress and the BJP over the ongoing economic blockade in the state and the Naga Peace Accord.

Amukhomba Ngangbam March 03, 2017 11:55:59 IST
Manipur Election 2017: 38 seats go to poll in first phase on 4 March, many Congress bigwigs in fray

Imphal: Election campaign for the first phase election of the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly officially came to end on Thursday. The first phase of the election will be held in 38 assembly constituencies located in the districts of Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Phezerol districts.

Manipur Election 2017 38 seats go to poll in first phase on 4 March many Congress bigwigs in fray

Poll time. Reuters

A total of 168 candidates is in the fray for the first phase election. Among these candidates, six are women.

The total number of voters who can exercise their franchise in the first phase is 11,19,271, among whom 5,75,221 are women. The Election Commission had established 1,487 polling stations in the 38 assembly constituencies.

In this first phase election, BJP is fielding candidates in all the 38 assembly constituencies while the ruling Congress could field only in 37 seats.

One of the oldest regional parties of the state, Manipur Peoples’ Party which had even form a government in the state, this time could field only 13 candidates. Lok Jansakti Party, which has a legislator in the current Assembly is fielding candidates in 12 Assembly constituencies. The Trinamool Congress has fielded candidates in 10 Assembly constituencies while Manipur National Democratic Front has fielded candidates in 10 assembly constituencies. The North East India Democratic Party has fielded candidates in eight Assembly constituencies in this phase of the poll. Irom Chanu Sharmila’s political party Peoples' Resurgence and Justice Alliance is also contesting in three assembly constituencies. However, only one candidate will fight in the first phase. Eighteen candidates are fighting the election as independent candidates in the first phase.

Among the candidates contesting in this phase of the poll is Congress candidate Th. Lokeshwar of Khundrakpam Assembly Constituency, who is also the speaker of the Manipur Legislative Assembly. Other Congress ministers, I Hemochandra of Singjamei Assembly constituency, Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee president TN Haokip, Public Works Minister KH Ratankumar, Commerce and Industries Minister K Govindas, IFCD Minister Ngamthang Haokip and Social Welfare Minister AK Mirabai, who is also one among the two lady candidates of
Congress party.

Among the BJP candidates, some of the prominent figures contesting in this phase are former Union minister Th Chaoba, former minister Y Erabot, former minister N Biren, former chairman of the HAC V Hankhalien, veteran politician Okram Joy.

Former Minister in the Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress government Phunzathang Tonsing of Churachandpur assembly constituency, who had joined the NPP after his name has been announced as Congress candidate is also contesting as NPP candidate from the same assembly constituency. Former minister L Jayentakumar of Keishamthong Assembly constituency who was denied Congress ticket is also contesting as an NPP candidate.

The election is billed as a major test for the Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress government in the state which has been in power for the last 15 years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh were the star campaigners in the first phase, all of whom addressed multiple rallies.

During campaigning, there were bitter exchanges between the Congress and the BJP over the ongoing economic blockade in the state and the Naga Peace Accord.

The Congress accused the BJP of "compromising with the territorial integrity" of Manipur, an allegation the saffron party has vociferously denied.

The Naga Peace Accord, also called the "framework agreement", was signed between the National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) and the Centre in August 2015.

The state has been saddled with an indefinite economic blockade since 1 November 2016, imposed by the United Naga Council, causing immense hardship to the people as the supply of essential commodities, especially fuel, in the land-locked state has choked.

The blockade has been imposed on Manipur's "lifelines" — national highways 2 and 37, in protest against the state government's decision to carve out seven new districts from the existing ones.

The blockade has become a major poll plank in the north-eastern state.
The second and final phase of the Assembly polls is scheduled on 8 March and the results will be declared on 11 March.

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