Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

Union Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh extended talks offer to NE insurgents

Defence Minister Offers Talks with NE Insurgents; Manifestos of Major Parties Out, BJP Silent on AFSPA; NPP Alleges Intimidation by SoO militants; Cong Blasts BJP for Poll Violence

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Imphal on February 14 said that the Centre is ready to hold talks with the insurgent groups of the Northeastern region to resolve their problems.

Addressing a public meeting in Manipur’s Langthabal Mandal in Imphal West district in connection with the flag hoisting ceremony of LJP turned BJP candidate Karam Shyam for Langthabal Assembly Constituency, the Union Defence Minister said that the number of violence has decreased to its lowest level in Northeastern states, reports said.

“When our government was formed at the Centre, we had said that we will put a check on terrorism and will solve the problem of insurgency and prepare the ground for development here. A lot has changed in Manipur in the last five years. Five years ago, Manipur was counted as a Northeastern state where only incidents of violence were discussed. But today the confidence of development not violence is clearly visible here,” Rajnath said.

The Union Defence Minister alleged that in the last 70 years, the Congress government had neglected Manipur and other Northeastern states, which reflects the anti-development and anti-Northeast Mindset of the Congress.

BJP Manifesto Silent on AFSPA

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on February 17 has finally released its election manifesto for the Manipur Legislative Assembly elections 2022 scheduled to be held in two phases on February 28 and March 5.

BJP national president JP Nadda, who arrived in Imphal on February 17 released the manifesto, at a function organised by the party at Hotel Classic Grande in Imphal East district, in the presence of Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren, state BJP president Adhikarimayum Sharda, Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Education and MP of Manipur Outer Parliamentary Constituency Dr. RK Ranjan, Manipur’s lone Rajya Sabha MP Leishemba Sanajaoba, BJP Manipur in-charge Sambit Patra, national and state party leaders among others.

Speaking at the launch of the BJP manifesto, JP Nadda said that the BJP manifesto reflects the culture of Manipur and aspirations of every Manipuri.

“Unlike that of other political parties, the BJP Manifesto is not just a piece of paper, but the commitment of the BJP which will be taken up in five years,” Nadda claimed.

The party is committed to empowering of all sections, and will focus on infrastructure, health and education, Nadda said, adding the party’s commitment to protect the integrity of Manipur and the indigenous identity of Manipur.

However, when asked about the exclusion of demand for repeal of AFSPA in the manifesto, Nadda declined to give any comment, reports added.

UKLF Cadres Allegedly Target NPP Workers

National People’s Party (NPP) candidate of Chandel Assembly Constituency (AC), Lunkhopao Haokip alias Apao said some of the alleged United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF) cadres hijacked and burnt down one Gypsy vehicle belonging to NPP workers on February 11.

Lunkhopao told media at NPP office located at MG Avenue, Imphal on February 13. He said the incident occurred at around 8 pm at Twilelon village, Chakpikarong Sub-Division in Chandel district.

Lunkhopao said on February 10, UKLF leaders openly called a meeting at K Savumpa village, Khengjoi sub division and at Twilelon village in support of the BJP candidate and another meeting was held at Khengjoi village on February 11 last.

He alleged that the said cadre took signature of the village chiefs, took their phone numbers and gave a stern warning not to work against their dictates. The cadre also cautioned the villagers no any other parties will be entertained in their area of operation. He alleged that the cadre will mark the persons who do not obey their instruction and will be given capital punishment, reports said.

Nomination of NPP Candidate for Chandel AC Rejected

The nomination paper of Lunkhopao Haokip, NPP candidate for 41-Chandel Assembly Constituency, has been rejected as he is found to be disqualified under Section 9A of the Representation of People Act, 1951, said Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Manipur, Rajesh Agrawal.

Representation of the People Act, 1951 section 9A stated that “a person should be disqualified if and for so long as, there subsists a contract entered into by him in the course of his trade or business with appropriate government for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any works undertaken by the government”.

Responding to the media question, CEO Manipur Rajesh Agrawal said that details of subsists contract will informed within few days, reports added.

NPF Jiribam to Support BJP Candidate

In an interesting political development, the Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF), Jiribam on February 14 assured support to BJP candidate of Jiribam Assembly Constituency (AC) N Budhachandra in the ensuing 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election, in hopes of the BJP bringing peace and development in the district.

Reports said in a press meet held at the residence of NPF president Paosing Kamei at Bidyanagar in Jiribam, he expressed hope for a peaceful Jiribam with the BJP rule. With the hopes that the BJP will bring development in the various sectors of Jiribam including the road and transports, the NPF Jiribam extended support to the BJP candidate N Budhachandra in the ensuing state assembly election, he announced.

The event was attended by former NPF candidate of Jiribam district Mathew Kamei, NPF vice president Pu Lala Vaiphei, NPF members Pu Lalboi and Gina Hmar, reports added.

BJP Ruined Manipur Coalition Govt: Conrad Sangma

The National People’s Party (NPP) national president Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, on February 18 said that his party is truly dedicated to the people of the Northeast and called upon people in Manipur to come together in unity under one political platform – National People’s Party.

“The people of Northeast and Manipur can show that we can compete with any other states and country if we all unite under one political platform, (NPP) which is truly dedicated to the people of Northeast,” said Sangma while addressing the “One-Day Political Discussion”.

Reports said, the programme organised by NPP Keishamthong unit, was held in connection with the ensuing 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election at YLL Ground in Imphal West.

Conrad Sangma urged the people to imagine having 24 MPs from the Northeast from a single political platform.

“What is that we cannot do in Parliament if the 24 MPs raise their voice together on behalf of the Northeast people?” he questioned.

The big difference with NPP and other political parties is that members of the NPP never considered themselves as party members but a family, he added.

17 Women Candidates for Election 2022

At least 17 women candidates in 15 Assembly Constituencies (ACs) will be contesting in the coming 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Elections 2022 scheduled to be held on February 28 and March 5.

As many as 173 candidates, including the 15 female candidates, will be contesting in 38 ACs of the 60 ACs of Manipur for the first phase of elections. The women candidates include two candidates each from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), one each from the Janata Dal (United) – JD(U) and Kuki People’s Alliance (KPA), four from Indian National Congress (INC), three from National People’s Party (NPP) and another two Independent candidates.

According to the available data, among the 15 female candidates, Nemcha Kipgen is the only sitting BJP MLA. She will be contesting for Kangpokpi AC while the other female BJP ticket holder Shagolsem Kebi will be fighting for Naoriya Pakhanglakpa AC.

The two NCP candidates Poonam Rani Wangkhem and Kh Binarani will be contesting in Kshetrigao AC and Konthoujam AC respectively.

Lone female candidate of JD (U), Thounaojam Brinda will be fighting for Yaiskul AC and the lone KPA female candidate Kimneo Haokip Hangshing will be contesting in Saikul AC.

INC candidates A Pramodini, sitting MLA Akoijam Mirabai, Th Ithoibi and Lhingkim Haokip will be contesting in Keishamthong AC, Patsoi AC, Oinam AC and Saikul AC respectively.

The three candidates of NPP, P Sumati, Irengbam Nalini and Thangthatling Sinate are contesting for Lamshang AC, Oinam AC and Tipaimukh AC respectively and the two Independent candidates M Anita and N Sarojini will be contesting in Sekmai AC and Kumbi AC respectively.

Only two Assembly Constituencies have two female candidates each as rivals. They are Ithoibi of INC and Nalini of NPP in Oinam AC; and Lhingkim Haokip of INC and Kimneo Haokip Hangshing of KPA in Saikul AC.

In the second phase of the elections which is scheduled on March 5, only two female candidates filed their nomination papers. They are Yengkhom Romita of CPI, who filed her nomination in Kakching AC and SS Olish of BJP, who filed her nomination for Chandel AC.

Cong Alleges BJP of Indulging in Pre-Poll Violence

The Congress party on February 16 alleged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of indulging in pre-poll violence and intimidation; and urged the CEO Manipur to exercise its constitutional authority to ensure free and fair election in the state. Those involved in violence must be put behind bars and must not be released untill the elections are over, it stated.

In this regard, a Congress party team led by its national leaders Jairam Ramesh and Bhakta Charan Das along with MLAs K Meghachandra and P Sharatchandra submitted a memorandum to the Chief Electoral Officer, Manipur on February 16.

The memorandum requested urgent direction from the CEO and relevant authorities to declare all assembly constituencies with repeated poll violence, especially Heirok AC, Mayang Imphal AC and Ukhrul AC as hypersensitive and extend judicial custody of all accused persons till completion of the election.

The memorandum also requested to launch investigation and initiate action against miscreants indulging in criminal intimidation against flag hoisting candidates, especially in Heingang AC, Kangpokpi AC and Khundrakpam AC and replace the state police with para-military forces and CRPF.

AICC election observer Jairam Ramesh after the submission of the memorandum told the media that there have been 14 major incidents of poll violence in six assembly constituencies in recent days. “The BJP is afraid of losing the election in Manipur. That is why they are resorting to violence,” he said.

The Congress is highly concerned that the state administration and police department is not doing its best to ensure free and peaceful elections. Informing that the CEO had given his assurance to look into the matter and ensure that the elections are held peacefully, he said, “We are hopeful that the commission will take up necessary actions.”

Congress Condemns Attack on Party Candidate in Imphal East

The Congress Party on February 17strongly condemned the assault on the workers and son of party candidate of Saikul AC, Lhingkim Haokip, allegedly by local club members of Koirengei during the candidate’s flag hoisting programme at her residence in Koirengei in Imphal East district.

Reports said election secretary of the candidate, Miller Ningshim told media persons that a mob, disguised as locals club members of Koirengei, violently obstructed the son and workers and intimidated them by removing of flags, threat to property of the candidate, stone-pelting, vandalising in the run-up to and during the flag-hoisting ceremony on February 14 at the candidate’s residence situated two km away from the residence of Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren.

No action was taken by the police for almost two hours, where the Congress leaders and its workers were held hostage without being able to safely leave the location, he added. He also alleged that one of the persons who was involved in the intimidation claimed himself to be the OSD of the Chief Minister, reports added.

Lhingkim said such an ugly attack during a flag hoisting programme of a candidate is the first of its kind in the state.

“As a woman candidate I strongly opposed such election related violence,” she said, adding, “Please do not repeat such act in the future. Let’s fight the election in a peaceful manner.”

Workers of Kangpokpi JD (U) Candidate Assaulted

Three workers of Janata Dal (United) – JD (U) candidate of Kangpokpi Assembly Constituency Soshim Gurung were physically assaulted allegedly by suspected Kuki militants with arms on the night of February 16.

Reports said the workers, namely Damar Dahal, Sushil Khatiwoda and Deepesh Bhudhathokhi from Kalapahar sustained injuries during the alleged attack. They were allegedly struck by the butts of firearms during the assault.  They were admitted to Raj Medicity for treatment and later discharged.

It may be mentioned that Kangpokpi AC is the seat of BJP sitting MLA Nemcha Kipgen.

31 Foreign Nationals in Manipur Central Jail

There are a total of 31 foreign national inmates of whom, 24 are under trial prisoners, while seven are convicts at the Manipur Central Jail, Sajiwa, as per latest data received by Manipur State Legal Services Authority (MASLSA) from the said jail.

Reports said the mentioned figures were quoted during awareness cum interactive meeting with Foreign National Prisoners that was held at Central Jail, Sajiwa on February 17. The one-on-one interaction was held between the prisoners and the representatives from Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), during which issues and problems of effective legal representation, consular access and access to family and friends, matters relating to repatriation, deportation etc., faced by them were deliberated. The interaction was held so as to work out ways and strategies to deal with such issues in collaboration with all the relevant stakeholders.

Independent Candidate’s House Vandalised in Tengnoupal AC

The residence of Independent candidate of Tengnoupal Assembly Constituency (AC), Tantanga Kohai Moshilpha at Tuishimi village was vandalised by workers of rival NPF candidate, D Korungthang, on the night of February 17.

Reports said that on February 17 night, workers of the NPF candidate allegedly came and vandalised all the flags, posters and banners that were hoisted and pasted at roadsides at Tuishimi village. The rival workers were further alleged of vandalising the residence of Moshilpha by throwing stones and using slings, following which a complaint has been lodged at the office of Tengnoupal district election officer, stated a release signed by Secretary of Election Committee of the Independent Candidate.

Sekmai AC Independent Candidate Complaint

Meanwhile, another independent candidate of Sekmai Assembly Constituency Khaidem Ranjit Singh appealed to the authority concerned to initiate action against Apunba Khurkhul Nupi Chaokhat Lup (AKNCL) for allegedly threatening the voters to not enter his residence at Khurkhul Makha Leikai.

Speaking to the media in Imphal, the Independent candidate said that the AKNCL is a biased organisation which works in the interest of the sitting MLA of Sekmai, reports said.

RJSP Has Lowest Number of Candidates

As many as 265 candidates belonging to 13 different parties are in the fray for the 60 seats in the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election 2022 scheduled to be conducted in two phases – on February 28 and March 5. While the BJP has the highest number of candidates in fray, the RJSP has the lowest.

The Rashtriya Janhit Sangharsh Party (RJSP), with one candidate, has the lowest number of candidates among all parties in the state.

According to the available data, the other political parties that have fielded candidates for the ensuing 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the National People’s Party (NPP), the Janata Dal (United) – JD (U), the Naga People’s Front (NPF), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Shiv Sena, the Lok Janshakti Party (Ramvilas) – LJP (Ramvilas), the Republican Party of India (Athawale) – RPI(A), the Kuki National Assembly (KNA), the Kuki People’s Alliance (KPA), and Independent.

The BJP has the highest number of candidates contesting the elections. It has fielded 60 candidates for all 60 seats in the state. The INC, with 53 in fray, has the second highest number of candidates, followed by NPP and JD (U) with 38 candidates each. NPF has fielded 10 candidates while RPI (A) and Shiv Sena has nine each, NCP has eight candidates,  LJP (R) three, CPI, KNA and KPA has two candidates each, while 30 are independent candidates.

Nagaland NPP Leaders Visit Manipur

Ahead of the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election, National People’s Party (NPP), Nagaland President Andrew Ahoto Yepthomi and his cabinet visited Churachandpur district on February 14 to prepare for election.

Reports said in a press conference, in the presence of the Churachandpur district NPP president V Chinkhenpau, Andrew Ahoto said his team has come to find out the ways and means to fight the election in Nagaland as Churachandpur district with five NPP candidate is sure to get at least two candidate elected from their party.

The Nagaland NPP president also said they had met all candidates and expressed that the party is also doing good in Northeast India with the theme of ‘one voice one NE’. He asked the people of Northeast India to stand united as a family and stressed that they can do wonders with 24 MPs in the Indian parliament, reports added.

Licensed Gun Seized in Imphal East

A DBBL gun was seized during a search operation conducted by Imphal East District Police at Keirao Maibam Lampak in Imphal East on February 13 as a part of security measures being taken up in view of the ensuing 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election.

Reports said the cordon and search operation by a team led by Additional SP (Law and Order), Imphal East, SDPO Porompat, OC Irilbung and Imphal East Commando began at 6 am. During the operation that lasted till 8 am, around 50 persons underwent verification. The DBBL gun was seized as it was not deposited at a nearby police station despite the order issued to deposit arms, in connection with the coming election.

56 Candidates Have Criminal Antecedents

The Chief Electoral Office, Manipur Rajesh Agrawal on February 17 disclosed to media that a total of 56 candidates out of 265 candidates are having criminal antecedents. The Format C1 is to be published by candidates having criminal antecedents and; Format C2 to be published by political parties selecting such candidates on three occasions in the one of the newspapers and one of the TV channel.

The first publication should be within first four days of withdrawal of nominations. The second Publications should be between day 5 – day 8 days of withdrawal of nominations and third publication from day 9 till the last day of campaign (48 hours before the close of poll).

Addressing the media on February 17 at CEO, Manipur conference hall, Rajesh also said that a total of 173 candidates are contesting the Phase -1 elections, out of which 15 are females and a total of 92 candidates are contesting in Phase -2, out of which 2 are females. There are two withdrawals and one rejection in Phase-I, and two withdrawals and two rejections in Phase-2.

Political Manifesto should not be released during the prohibition period in both phases as prescribed under Section 126 of the RPA, 1951 (Last 48 hours before the close of poll), he added.

Nagaland CM Urges Naga Voters in Manipur to Vote NPF

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio led the Naga People’s Front (NPF) campaign for the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election 2022 which was launched in Senapati district on February 16. He wished the NPF, an ally of his United Democratic Alliance government in Nagaland, success in the Manipur elections.

Reports said Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio urged all Naga voters in Manipur to vote for NPF candidates in the state emphasising the need for Naga peace agreement during the campaign in Manipur, among others.

“We must not say that the Naga movement is a failure… The Government of India has recognized our unique history and recognised the Naga movement as a political issue and these are big things for us,” Rio said during the campaign launch programme in Senapati in Manipur.

Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio tweeted, “Attended campaign kick-off for the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election 2022 of the Naga People’s Front, an ally of the United Democratic Alliance government in Nagaland. My best wishes to the candidates and I wish them success.”

Manipur is set to go for the 12th Assembly polls in two phases on February 28 and March 5. At least 10 NPF candidates are in fray for the elections this time. The NPF candidates includes four sitting MLAs – Losii Dikho from Mao Assembly Constituency (AC) in Senapati district, Awangbou Newmai from Tamei AC in Tamenglong district, Leishiyo Keishing from Phungyar AC in Kamjong district and Khashim Vashum from Chingai AC in Ukhrul district. The other NPF candidates are Langhu Paulhring Anal for Chandel AC in Chandel district; D Korungthang Maring, who left the Congress recently and joined the NPF for Tengnoupal AC in Tengnoupal district; Ram Muivah for Ukhrul AC in Ukhrul district; Khoho Siile Antony for Karong AC in Senapati district; M Francis Ngajokpa for Tadubi AC in Senapati district; and Khangthuanang Panmei for Tamenglong AC in Tamenglong district.

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