After winning Assam, BJP eyes Imphal civic body

Imphal : After convincingly riding to power in the Assam assembly elections, the BJP is hoping for a reprise in the June 2 polls to this Manipur capital’s civic body, fielding 26 candidates for the 27 seats at stake.

The Congress is the only other party to have fielded a like number of candidates and this will be its first big test after being routed Assam, which it had continuously ruled for 15 years.

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“We will win an absolute majority. People in the region have realised the attention being given by (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and others to this region”, an upbeat state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Khetrimayum Bhabananda told reporters.

State Congress president T.N. Haokip disagreed.

“There will be no impact of the election results of a particular state. People have seen the developmental works done by the Congress in the last 15 years,” Haokip maintained.

Though the Modi wave was said to have made a landfall in the northeastern region in the 2014 general elections, winning seven of Assam’s 14 Lok Sabha seats, the Congress pulled one back by winning the Hiyanglam assembly byelections in Manipur last November.

A burning issue in the Imphal civic polls is the growing demand to disenfranchise non-locals and to delete their names from the voters’ lists. Anti-migrant activists contend that there are more outsiders than indigenous voters in three wards. While it is too late to delete the names, it remains to be seen whether these individuals abstain from voting.

Meanwhile, after the withdrawal of the nomination papers on Friday, 86 candidates are left in the fray, most of them from smaller parties or independents. There are 175,864 eligible voters.

Hectic electioneering is underway in all the wards. The Congress, which rules the state, is embarrassed by reports that rice under the National Food Security Act is being sold at Rs.10 at Tousem in Tamenglong district – double of what the statute provides for.

For the BJP, the main election issues are illegal migrants and corruption, while the Congress is pointing to the developmental work in its 15-year rule, apart from checking the influx of migrant workers.