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National - Elections 2004 Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Manipur parties to go their own way

Iboyaima Laithangbam

IMPHAL

With both the ruling and Opposition coalitions having failed to field common candidates for the two Lok Sabha seats in Manipur, it is becoming evident that as in the past there will be bloodshed ahead of the elections.

It is no accident that the State Government has beefed up security arrangements for politicians whose candidatures had already been announced. The BJP, which had already started electioneering, with life-size cutouts of the Prime Minister ready to be put up, has now stopped doing so, ostensibly at the behest of a proscribed underground organisation.

The earlier plan was that the ruling Secular People's Front and the Opposition Democratic People's Alliance would field common candidates.

However, the constituent parties have decided to go their own way now.

The ruling SPF was formed on March 2, 2003, by the Congress, the Manipur State Congress Party, the CPI, the NCP, and the Manipur Nationalist Congress. Later the Democratic Revolutionary Peoples Party with two MLAs joined it.

On the other hand, the Opposition DPA was formed by the BJP, the Manipur People's Party, the Federal Party of Manipur, and the SAP on March 4.

The BJP president, Thounaojam Chaoba, said he had never attended a meeting of the DPA and there was no question of seat-sharing with other partners. Congress leaders from New Delhi said that since they were the dominant party, parties such as the CPI with just 5 MLAs should not impose conditions.

Incidentally there are now just two parties, the Congress and the CPI in the SPF, since the other parties have joined the Congress. The Higher Education Minister, Thokchom Meinya, is the Congress candidate for the prestigious Inner Manipur general seat. Though the party wants to field its own candidate in the Outer Manipur constituency, Sharad Pawar of the NCP is saying that the Congress should support the outgoing MP, Holkhomang Haokip, who had recently joined it.

Hectic haggling is going on. In the meantime, the BJP will contest both the seats. Party president Mr. Chaoba is the candidate for the Inner Manipur seat while Loli Adanee, a relatively nondescript politician, is being fielded in the Outer seat. The DPA partners feel let down by the BJP since it spurned their proposal for a common candidate.

Speaking to The Hindu, Okram Joy, MPP president, said that efforts were still on to find common DPA candidates. However, sources said it would be an impossible task since each party wants its candidate as the common one. Anticipating such a situation, the DPA partners had finalised their own candidates. For instance, the MPP will field sitting MLA, Nimaichand Luwang, in the Inner Manipur seat.

Since it does not have much influence in the hills it may support the candidate of some like-minded parties there. The FPM had surrendered the post of the legislative leader to the BJP despite the fact that their strength in the Assembly was 13 and 4 respectively. The understanding was that the BJ P would try to install a BJP-led Ministry in Manipur. It failed to do so and now the FPM wants to field Leishangthem Chandramani, a senior politician and former minister, who was defeated in the last Assembly elections.

Since the Congress has announced names of both the candidates for the Lok Sabha seats, the CPI has announced that Art and Culture Minister, Moirangthem Nara, will contest the Inner Manipur seat. It has not so far fielded a candidate in the reserved seat since it does not have much influence among the tribals.

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