Manipur has geared up for the forthcoming 12th Legislative Assembly election scheduled in two phases February 27 and March 3. Altogether, 38 assembly constituencies will go to the polls on February 27 in the first phase, while the remaining 27 of 60 will go to the polls on March 3 in the second phase.
The election is largely seen as a bipolar battle between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indian National Congress (INC). While, National People’s Party (NPP), BJP’s partner at National and State, is likely to play second fiddle.
However, considering the recent political development in the state- joining of incumbent Congress MLA from Tipaimukh, Chaltonlien Amo to BJP on January 9, 2022, the resignation of Y Surchandra Singh, who was elected consecutively for three times from Congress on January 12, 2022, and the buzz of few more Congress MLAs joining either BJP or other parties before the polls signal the emptiness of Congress and easy fight for BJP this election. The Congress (INC) that ruled consecutively for 15 years went to trauma after its state Chief and MLA, Govindas Konthoujam, joined BJP last August. Interestingly, the INC, which had won 28 seats in 2017, had been reduced to 13.
Rajesh Thiyam, a resident of Oinam Assembly constituency in Bishnupur District, observed that Congress in Manipur is not seen as a threat to BJP. It could not cross the double-digit mark this time; even NPP may perform better than Congress in this election. Every constituency in Manipur has multiple BJP intending candidates, and they all vowed to work against Congress unitedly.
People of Manipur want to see BJP in power as the BJP-led government in the State had delivered its promises and made available of welfare schemes at the doorstep. After BJP formed the government in 2014, Manipur has witnessed the highest level of employment and increased earning capacity of people. The pace of infrastructural development in hill and valley areas is beyond one’s imagination. Significantly, the present regime ensured social security, improved the law-and-order situation, peace and harmony among the ethnic communities, and created a favourable ecosystem for business and employment.
A resident of Salungpham under Heirok Assembly Constituency in Thoubal district, who is also a teacher in aided school, said that the BJP government hiked the salary of aided school teachers. Earlier, payment of aided teachers was made once or twice a year; however, after BJP came into power, they started receiving salaries for every two months.
People are happy with the government; received health insurance under Chief Minister-gi Hakselgi Tengbang and Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna, availed benefits under e-SHRAM for unorganised workers and LPG connections under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, started drinking tap water under Jal Jeevan Mission, and provided better connectivity for remote areas, he added while stating that Chief Minister N Biren’s government is a people’s government.
The Congress in Manipur is synonymous with Okram Ibobi Singh, former Chief Minister of Manipur, for three consecutive terms. His government was marked with charges of corruption and money laundering, and the state went through a violent social turmoil during his 15 years of rule, which is not easy for the people of Manipur to forget. Unfortunately, his dictatorial style of functioning the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee infuriated many Congress legislatures, switching their allegiance with other parties.
Earlier, RK Imo Singh, Congress MLA from Sagolband Assembly Constituency and son of former Chief Minister, RK Jaichand Singh, was expelled from the Congress party allegedly under the duress of Ibobi with a personal vendetta.
Pointing out that Ibobi and his leadership is the reason for the falling of Congress in Manipur, RK Imo said in a press release after his expulsion from the Congress, “…..Ibobi will continue to run the Congress party as he pleases and other so-called leaders without applying their minds will blindly follow him. It was for the very same reason that six INC MLAs resigned from their respective seats and the Congress Party recently. These MLAs themselves stated that they resigned from the party due to lack of faith in the CLP leadership and his selfish actions without any ideology.”
M. Asnikumar Singh, Senior Spokesperson, BJP Manipur Pradesh, observed that the Congress' dynastic culture and nepotism are the main ingredients of their rapid decline towards political oblivion. The orientation towards one family for generations; the tendency to function like a private limited company sowed the seeds of their downfall. Many leaders' blatant ignorance of merit and service is the reason for leaving INC and joining other parties, especially the BJP.
The INC for decades gave stepmotherly treatment to the Northeastern Region of India, including Manipur. Here, they followed the policy of 'Divide and Rule'; destroying the age-old social fabric and social harmony of the State during their 15-year of the regime (2002-17). During their rule, human rights were blatantly ignored; many innocent lives were lost, and for the people of Manipur, basic commodities were inaccessible due to years of instability, economic blockades, insurgency etc. The bottom line is both state, and non-state actors were a huge nuisance to the normal daily lives of the State's whole population. Manipur was then considered a land of complete uncertainty in the Northeastern Region.
After the BJP came to power in the State in 2017 driven by the PM Narendra Modi's vision of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas' the BJP-led State Government under the leadership of the 'People's CM' N Biren Singh has brought a completely new landscape; a bonafide people centric government which is completely accessible by all citizens of the State.
BJP's performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the State and the 2020 bye elections is the testament of the faith the people of Manipur have reposed in it. Even now, many prominent leaders from Congress (including their sitting state unit president who has been elected for six consecutive terms), NPP (sitting cabinet minister), LJP (former cabinet minister and sitting MLA) etc., continue to join the BJP. These incomings to the BJP have evident that the Congress is a sinking ship in which no one wants to ride on anymore.