The five newly elected members to the legislative Assembly were sworn in this week increasing the strength of the ruling coalition to 23, with seven seats still vacant in the 60-member House. Meanwhile, as a measure to fight the spread of Covid-19 cases, the state has also announced sero-surveillance in two districts each in the valley and hills from November 30, while the Central government has stepped-in with funds for building an RCC bridge over the Irang river.
Newly-elected MLAs Sworn In
With completion of Manipur Assembly Bye-Election for five Assembly Constituencies, for which final results were declared on November 10, three BJP members, Ngamthang Haokip of 51-Saitu (ST) AC, Oinam Lukhoi Singh of 22-Wangoi AC and Paonam Brojen Singh of 34-Wangjing Tentha AC, and one Independent MLA, Y Antas Khan of 30-Lilong AC were sworn in as new MLAs on November 12.
Among the five vacant seats notified for the bye-election on November 7, the BJP won four seats including 60-Singhat Assembly Constituency that was won by Ginsuanhau Zou uncontested. Lilong assembly constituency was won by an independent candidate.
Independent MLA, Y Antas Khan is likely to support the BJP government. Speaking to media persons after the oath-taking ceremony, Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren said that they have already invited him but whether the newly elected independent candidate will support the BJP is his decision.
However, Lilong MLA, Y Antas Khan said till date has said there is no question of supporting the ruling government. The matter will be decided along with his constituency’s election committee, added media reports.
Antas Khan, a former loyalist of the BJP, secured 17,106 votes while Nasir got 14,028. Although BJP did not field its candidate in Lilong AC, it openly supported Md. Abdul Nasir, who lost to Antas by over 3000 votes. Congress candidate Md Azizul Haque managed to get a meagre 142 votes.
In Wangjing Tentha AC, P Brojen Singh of BJP who resigned from the Congress was re-elected securing 15,321 votes. His nearest rival INC candidate Moirangthem Hemanta secured 13808 votes. Independent candidate Sarangthem Manaobi got only 331 votes.
Oinam Lukhoi who resigned from the Congress and contested in Wangoi AC defeated his nearest rival Khuraijam Loken Singh of the National People’s Party with just 197 more votes. Lukhoi got 10,960 votes and Loken got 10,763 votes while Salam Joy INC got 5591.
In Saitu AC, veteran politician Ngamthang Haokip who resigned from the Congress and contested as BJP candidate defeated his only rival Dr. Lamtinthang Haokip of INC with a margin of over 12,000 votes. Ngamthang Haokip got 24,549 votes and the Congress candidate got 12,290 votes.
With four seats won in the bye-election and the recent verdict of the High Court appointing runners-up in 2017 election Rameshwar of BJP as MLA of Kakching AC, the tally of the ruling party has now increased to 23 in a house of 60 with an effective strength of 53. Court cases are reportedly pending in the remaining seven ACs that are lying vacant.
Despite the fear of COVID-19, a high voter turnout of 92.54 per cent was registered in the by-elections.
Sero-surveillance from Nov 30
Manipur will begin COVID-19 Sero-surveillance from November 30 in two districts each in valley and hill areas as a proactive measure to control COVID-19 pandemic. This was disclosed to the media by the principal secretary, Health, Vumlunmang Vualnam on November 13.
The districts are Imphal West and Kakching for valley districts, and Ukhrul and Churachandpur for hills.
Reports say that the department intends taking up targeted testing in areas where bye-polls were held recently as recommended by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry. The targeted number of samples to be collected during the Sero-surveillance is 4,600 in the ratio of 60:40 of valley and hills.
Of the total 4,600 samples, 1,380 each will be collected from two valley districts and 920 each will be collected from two hill districts. It will be carried out by altogether 12 teams comprising five members each.
Although there was a concern about rising active cases of COVID-19 in October, the rising graph has come down through proactive steps taken. As on October 26, the active cases were 4,223 but it was slashed to 3,115 on November 12 evening.
The Principal Secretary also said the department is encouraging use of pulse oxymeters not only at clinics but even to patients under home isolation. So far 613 pulse oxymeters have been distributed to the districts, he said.
The testing team will also record Oxygen saturation (SpO2) level of all tested persons and Flu Clinics and Casualty Units in hospitals will also record SpO2, he added.
Eviction Drive at Tengnoupal
Resumption of eviction drive at Integrated Check Post (ICP) bypass road at Moreh led to a confrontation between the locals and security forces on November 12.
Media reports say, following an order from deputy commissioner Tengnoupal district, a team led by Superintendent of Police, Tengnoupal Th Vikramjit and ADC Moreh Sangboi Gangte and staff of settlement department took up the eviction process at around 1.30 on the day.
However, the team met with stiff opposition from the locals claiming to be owners of the land. The protesters attempted to stop the eviction claiming that they have not received any compensation.
As a mark of protest, the protesters stripped their clothes and pelted stones at the officials. To control the situation, police fired tear gas shells and mock bombs leading to injuries in both the parties. Later, after dispersing the protestors, the officials started dismantling illegal structures at the ICP bypass road.
Reports added, a member of the ICP bypass road structures committee, said the affected households have not received any compensation from the government to date.
Funds for Bridge over Irang
Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh on November 12 announced that the Central government has sanctioned funds for building an RCC bridge over Irang River at Taubum village in Noney district following the collapse of the old Bailey bridge that caused the death of one person.
Reports say, the foundation stone for the new RCC Irang Bridge will be laid soon when CM Biren visits the place after completion of the reinstallation of the Bailey bridge. He also requested the Central authorities to hand over the construction work to the State Government.
Rs. 287 Cr Brown Sugar Seized
A combined team Assam Rifles and Manipur Police seized 72 kilograms of brown sugar worth Rs. 287 Crore on November 11 at Kamu, in Thoubal district of Manipur.
Reports say based on intelligence input regarding a large consignment of drugs hidden in the area awaiting further distribution to various parts of the country, search operation was launched by Assam Rifles and Manipur Police on the intervening night of November10 and 11.
Mass-Testing for COVID
The People’s Task Force for COVID-19 (PTFC-19), while cautioning that the state may witness surge in COVID-19 cases with conclusion of the bye-elections, has urged the State Technical Committee to conduct mass testing of COVID-19 in all the four constituencies where bye-elections were held.
“Many people violated standard operating procedure of COVID-19 while casting their votes and even while celebrating the victory of their candidates,” said a release of the Committee.