By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2022-02-28 08:58:18
While the N Biren Singh government in Manipur assiduously and patiently notched up many achievements in the last 5 years in becoming the first non-Congress party to complete a full five-year term in the north-eastern state, the announcement of the elections brought to the fore the many contradictions still existing in the state. The absence of large scale violence meant that the state had prospered in the last five years. But now, the fierce rivalry between the two national parties and the many regional players have culminated in the JD(U) poll candidate from Imphal East Wahengbam Rojit Singh being shot at (he is undergoing treatment and is said to be out of danger)by an unidentified youth just two days before the first phase of voting. The way workers of all parties are moving around with weapons shows how money and muscle power have taken over the campaign in the state.
Manipur is a small state largely dependent on remittance from migrant workers. The Covid-19 situation had drastically reduced such inflows, leading to distress in the population. The BJP is also troubled by broken alliances and desertions. It is contesting on all 60 seats this time and the NPF has fielded 10 candidates while the NPP has scaled up its ambitions and is going alone on 38 seats. The tribal rivalries are also out in the open with the Meitie, Nagas and Kukis trying to make their presence felt during election time. The Kukis have even floated a separate party. The Congress is trying to make a comeback by attracting many turncoats from the BJP. The situation is fluid and it might result in a hung assembly. If that happens, the 2017 scenario will be repeated and the single largest party might form the government with turncoats from other parties giving it a majority. The state needs a stable government to avoid militancy raising its head again.