Chapter 34

Ibobi goes all out against BJP

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 28

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh today went all out against the Narendra Modi led government while also listing the achievements of the 15 years Congress rule. He was speaking at the 131st foundation day of Indian National Congress (INC) observed today at Manipur Congress Bhavan, Imphal organised by Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC).

As a part of the function, the party also welcomed 10 new members who resigned from other parties in their respective Block Congress Committee. Out of the 10 new members 4 are from BJP, 1 from LJP and 5 from NCP. Chief Minister of Manipur Okram Ibobi said that the observation gave the opportunity to Congress block leaders to interact with the members of All India Congress Committee (AICC).

Ibobi said that the formation of seven new districts of the state was purely for the administrative convenience and the new districts were formed not for a single community, but for the whole people of the state. He said that though the central government deploys paramilitary forces to open the highways the truck drivers were afraid and not ready to pass the NH-2 unless the economic blockade has not been brought to an end.

He said, economic blockade is the master mind of central BJP government as a part of its divide and rule policy. So they urge the NSCN-IM with which they are in peace talks and United Naga Council not to lift the ongoing economic blockade. He added that the state holds the top among the north eastern state in the PMGSY village road connectivity and holds 4th rank in the whole country and also a role model of power sector reform in the entire country.

Ibobi said that during the 15 years congress rule of the state government, many development activities and achievement can be seen in the state and also transparent recruitment of jobs of medical, engineers etc took place. He assured that solving unemployment will be the top priority of the party manifesto which will be released very soon which will also includes providing safe drinking water to every houses of the state.

The observation was also attended by MPCC president TN Haokip, Dy CM Gaikhangam, AICC general secretary CP Joshi, former MP Manicka Tagore and Rajya Sabha Meghalaya MP Wangshuk others council of ministers, MLAs and members of MPCC.

BJP, UNC, NSCN (IM) are one and same : CM

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 28 2017: Joining the war of words between the Congress and the BJP, ahead of the Assembly election, Chief Minister O Ibobi today claimed that the BJP, UNC and the NSCN (IM) are one and the same though outwardly they may profess to be different entities.

Speaking at the reception function of a large number of people who have joined the Congress from other political parties at the Congress Bhawan at BT Road today, the Chief Minister said that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had conveyed to the State Government that the NSCN (IM) is against the creation of Kangpokpi (previously Sadar Hills) district.

To this the State Government had made it clear that creation of district is the prerogative of the State Government and no outside force can interfere in the decision of the State Government, said the Chief Minister.

Sapam Keba joins NEIDP

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 28

Former MLA and BJP ticket aspirant Sapam Kunjakeshor (Keba) today joined the new regional party North East India Development Party (NEIDP) after leaving BJP. Keba was sidelined by the central BJP leadership and awarded the party ticket to S Premananda, son of the late RSS leader S Madhumangol Sharma. The former MLA was today given a warm reception at NEIDP office at Sagolband Tera Loukrakpam Leikai in Imphal.

Addressing the ceremony Y Brojendro, Propaganda Secretary said that the party will protect the integrity of the state as well as educational rights will be given to the society including the uneducated old age people.

Sharmila meets Governor Heptulla

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 28

Rights activist turn politician Irom Sharmila along with other party leaders today met the Governor of Manipur Dr Najma Heptulla at the Raj Bhawan. During the meeting, the Governor assured Irom Sharmila that she will certainly follow up on Sharmila’s written appeal to President of India demanding repeal of AFSPA from the state.

The Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) representatives discussed with the Governor various issues of the state including repeal of AFSPA, military camp inside Manipur University campus, women empowerment, and leadership role of women in politics and other elected offices. Besides Sharmila, the PRJA delegation included Najima Bibi and James Mayengbam.

Manipur University, on the issue of women empowerment and their role in politics at large, it said. Najima Bibi, who is going to be the first ever Muslim woman candidate in the history of state electoral politics, contesting in Wabagai assembly constituency, apprised the Governor on the backlash she has been facing from religious leaders of her community, it said.

BJP, Kak backs candidate with best prospect

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 28 2017: With the Central Election Committee of the BJP expected to announce the second list of BJP candidates anytime, the BJP, Kakching Mandal has today urged that the party ticket for Kakching Assembly Consti-tuency be given to the candidate who has the best prospect of winning the election. Taking out a rally at Kakching, the BJP Kakching Mandal said that the party’s ticket should be given to the one who has been working sincerely down the years to strengthen the BJP in Kakching AC and not to any fly by night operator/s who joined the party only recently.

In a statement, the general secretary and organising secretary of BJP, Kakching Mandal said that if the party is to emerge victorious in the Assembly election, then the party’s ticket should be given to the one who has the trust of the people.

Many join Cong

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 28 2017: At least 10 people from different political parties have joined the Congress ahead of the Assembly election while MPCC has revoked the suspension order of four other former Congress functionaries. A reception function for the newly inducted Congress members and those whose suspension orders have been revoked were accorded a grand reception at the MPCC (I) office at BT Road today.

Former BJP members who have joined the Congress included Maibam Dhanabir Singh, former BJP candidate in Hiyanglam AC and State executive member of BJP Manipur Pradesh, Maibam Joykishor Singh State executive member of BJP Manipur Pradesh and Hanjabam Jayadeva Sharma former candidate in Yaiskul AC, State executive member and former vice president of BJP Manipur Morcha.

The others to join the Congress are, Tongbram (O) Thaba Devi former LJP councillor candidate of ward number 18, Pheiroijam Memchatombi (Abe) Devi former NCP councillor ward number 11 of Keishamthong BCC, Heikrujam Deva Singh sitting member ward number 9 (NCP), Keishamthong BCC, Mongjam Arunkumar Singh member ward number 11 (NCP) of Keishamthong BCC, Thokchom Chandrasakhi Devi, ex-member of ward number 9, Keishamthong BCC (NCP) and Thiyam Saratchandra Singh, ex-councillor candidate of ward number 9, Keishamthong BCC (BJP).

The former Congress members whose suspension orders were revoked and readmitted to the party are A Enilkumar Sharma, former secretary propaganda and publicity, Yaiskul Block Congress Committee and Th Keinatombi Devi, former president, Yaiskul Block Mahila Congress Committee.

 Dr Kumuiteung to contest in Tamei

Imphal Free Press
Daniel Kamei

A workers meet cum worship programme of Shri Dr Kumuiteung alias Dr Aku intending candidate for 52- Tamei Assembly Constituency was held at his party office in Tamenglong. The meeting strong condemned the central and state leaders of BJP for awarding BJP ticket to former MLA Kikhonbou by putting aside all those people who had made sacrifice for the party.

Nehemiah Daime, Media and Publicity Incharge of Adhoc Steering Committee of Dr Kumuiteung, further sought the bitter story played by national and state BJP incharge for putting aside Dr Kumuiteung, BJP ticket seeker and award BJP ticket to newly merge former MLA Kikhonbou. He said that as many as 200 leaders and workers from both Tamei and Tousem had attended the meeting and resolved to contest in 52-Tamei Assembly Constituency in the forthcoming state assembly constituency election.

3 Congress ADC members join NPF

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL| Jan 27

The Naga People’s Front (NPF) has warmly received three Congress Autonomous District Council (ADC) members who joined the party in a simple reception program at NPF party office at Dewlahland, here today. S Thotasheng, ADC member from 23 Kasom Khullen DCC Ukhrul, Sasom Khodang, ADC member from 19 Grihang, DCC Ukhrul and Hoping Jajo, former ADC and executive member of ADC Ukhrul said they left Congress party to join NPF in response to a greater call.

Addressing media at the occasion, Honreikhui Kashung, general secretary, NPF Manipur State Unit said after the three politicians have joined NPF, out of 24 elected ADC members in Ukhrul District only three non-NPF members are left in the district. Responding to media he informed that the party candidate list will be announced soon. In 15 constituencies NPF received 40 ticket seekers while among the 15 constituencies, NPF is filing five candidates in non-Naga dominated areas which are Saikul, Saitu, Kangpokpi, Jiribam and Henglep, he announced.

Reiterating party’s motto to bring ‘Manipur, a state of equal opportunity and equal development’, he appealed every political party including every section of society not to misinterpret NPF having relation with certain underground group.

PRJA’s interface with youth continues

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 27

After two successful interactions with the youth in the last fortnight, Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) conducted its third open session with the youths today at Forage Cafe, Thangmeiband here. During the interaction many youth raised several questions related with the incompetence of the current government of the state. They also enquired on PRJA’s ideology to its convener, Erendro Leichombam.

Erendro said that PRJA political party has been formed to empower the youth politically and clean up the corrupted and unjust system of the state. He added that the situation in the state is extremely disturbing with corruption, black laws, violation of human rights. It is time for the youth to stand up to bring about real democracy and corruption free administration, he said.

Ticket aspirants

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 27

The Manipur People’s Party has notified that the application form to get party’s ticket for the upcoming State Assembly election has been issued from today and the last date for submission will be on February 4, 2017, said a release. It further said all interested candidates can avail the application form during office hour from 10 am to 4 pm.

BJP condoles

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 27

The Bharatiya Janata Party, BJP Manipur Pradesh has deeply condoled the sudden demise of former president of BJP, Kumbi Mandal  N Mani Singh during a condolence meeting held today at Pt Deendayal Upadhyaya Auditorium, state BJP office, Imphal, said a release. It further said addressing the meeting, the president of BJP, Manipur Pradesh K Bhabananda expressed a deep sorrow and grief on the sudden demise of (L) Mani Singh and took share the shock and grief of his family.

Congress for declaring United Naga Council unlawful

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 27

The state Congress is all prepared to urge the central government to declare the United Naga Council as an unlawful organisation. There is enough evidence against the UNC that it is hand in glove with NSCN(IM). This was stated by Kh Joykishan, spokesperson of the Congress party while addressing the media today at Congress Bhavan, BT road Imphal.

He said that there are enough documents and prima facie evidence that indicates United Naga Council is an unlawful organisation. The documents are prepared with help from state law secretary, he said. The party is hopeful that central government will come up with firm decision, he added.

He pointed out that it has been more than 80 days that economic blockade is imposed on the National Highways. He called for a unanimous decision from all the political parties of the state against the economic blockade launched by United Naga Council. He further said that at least two lives have lost and many have been left injured.

Joykishan came down heavily against the speech made by the convenor of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), Himanta Biswas Sarma during his recent visit to the state. He alleged that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a hidden agenda by inviting president rule in the state repeatedly.

NCP Manipur State urges its intending candidates

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 27 2017: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Manipur State, has urged intending candidates to submit their nomination papers at the earliest. In a press meet held at Manipur Press Club today, NCP Manipur State president Soram Iboyaima Singh has advised all the intending candidates of the party to submit their nomination paper before January 30.

With the State Assembly election drawing closer, political parties have started announcing their list of candidates. To make sure NCP does not fall behind in poll campaign, intending candidates of the party have been asked to submit their nomination paper before the last date fixed by its Election Management Committee, that is January 30.

Election manifesto of the party will be released shortly, Iboyaima informed. Members of various political parties have joined NCP in the past few months. Some of the noted personality who have joined NCP are MI Khan of Keirao AC and Diten of Heirok AC. MI Khan was given a warm reception at today’s press meet. NCP Manipur State Election Management Committee chairman Y Iboyaima also attended the press meet.

Biren charges Congress of hatching Manipur disintegration, corruption

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 27

Mudslinging between the Congress party and the BJP continue unabated. In this spirit, spokesperson of the state BJP, N Biren today came out strongly alleging that it was former Congress leaders, including the incumbent home minister, who were promoting the Greater Nagalim demand. Speaking to media persons at the state BJP office at Nityaipat Chuthek, Biren mentioned that the Congress party has been in power since the state got statehood way back in 1972, however the state is still in total chaos.

‘There has been no proper administration, only tales of corruption and appeasement policy to certain organizations,’ Biren who is a former Congress minister in the Ibobi cabinet charged. ‘It is our former chief minister Rishang Keishing who had instigated the Nagas to carve out a separate homeland for themselves,’ he said adding that way back in 2005, Gaikhangam also signed an agreement with the Naga Students Federation, which promoted the organization and it sister concerns like the UNC , ANSAM to terrorize the public of the state.

He stated further that the Congress regime is one of the most corrupt and it is high time that the public acknowledged this.

‘Till date, there has been no BJP government in the state, this time let BJP uproot the deep rooted trees of corruption planted by the Congress,’ Biren who joined the BJP recently said.

New App to Help Manipur Voters Locate Booths, File Complaints via WhatsApp

Northeast Today

January 26: To go the digital way in upcoming Manipur assembly polls, the state government on Wednesday launched a new mobile application called ‘e-Manipur election’ which will provide several key information to the voters.

Chief Secretary O Nabakishore launched the app on the occasion of the 7th National Voters’ Day at City Convention Centre Hall. The App project head, Ramayan, who was in-charge of developing it, told PTI that some of the features have been introduced for the first time in the state and the country as well.

He said such an App was first launched in Bihar and then in West Bengal in their respective last elections. Later, Manipur authorities urged the Election Commission to devise it for the state.

Created by Software Education and Resource Private Limited, the App, which could be easily downloaded, consists of 4 new unique features, said the project head. The app has four new unique features, namely, Voter Slip, location of nearest booth, way to booth, and complaint through WhatsApp will assist the electorate in casting their votes easily than before, the app project head Ramayan added.

Launching the App, Chief Secretary O Nabakishore urged for free and fair polls in the state and underscored the necessity for all eligible electorate to participate in the two-phase elections in March. The function was organised by the Chief Electoral Officer, Manipur, and concluded with taking the pledge for National Voters’ Day and presentation of newly enrolled voters with Badges and Electronic Privacy Information Centre. Manipur goes to poll on March 4 and 8.

Alliance candidates list in 10 days

Imphal Free Press

The CPI national council secretary, Atul Kumar Anjaan today declared that the list of candidates of Secular and Democratic Alliance, an alliance formed by AAP, MNDF, CPI, CPM, NCP and JDU would be declared in ten days time. Atul Kumar is here in Manipur to take stock of the prevailing situation in Manipur and to supervise the election preparation for his party.

Speaking to media persons during a press conference, he slammed the BJP government at the Centre for not taking the economic blockade seriously. He appealed to the United Naga Council to lift the barbaric and undemocratic blockade.

He said that instead of resolving the issue both the BJP at the Centre and ruling Congress in the state are playing blame game on the responsibility of the indefinite economic blockade. The BJP always want to create history. Earlier during the Congress regime there was a blockade for 200 days. The BJP wants to cross 120 days and after that they will take some actions, said Atul Kumar.

The CPI secretary also denounced the BJP government stating that, ‘While the people are suffering the BJP at the Centre is enjoying’. Saying that all the essential commodities can be brought in hundreds of tons by military planes from Guwahati every day only in forty minutes Atul Kumar said the central government must start sending all essential commodities by military planes everyday to come out from the problematic situation of Manipur.

Manipur poll App launched

Imphal Free Press

To go the digital way in upcoming Manipur assembly polls, the state government today launched a new mobile application called ‘e-Manipur election’ which will provide key information to the voters. Chief Secretary O Nabakishore launched the App on the occasion of the 7th National Voters’ Day at City Convention Centre here. The voter day is observed in other districts as well.

The App project head, Ramayan, who was in-charge of developing it said some of the features have been introduced for the first time in the state and the country as well. He said such an App was first launched in Bihar and then in West Bengal in their respective last elections. Later, Manipur authorities urged the ECI to devise it for the state.

Created by Software Education and Resource Private Limited, the App, which could be easily downloaded, consists of 4 new unique features, he said. The four features, namely, Voter Slip, location of nearest booth, way to booth and complaint through WhatsApp will assist the electors in casting their votes easily than before, he added.

Cong points finger at BJP Govt

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 25 2017: After many BJP leaders have asked the State Government to stop blaming the BJP Government at Delhi for the indefinite economic blockade and the concomitant misery inflicted upon the people, newly appointed MPCC spokesman Kh Joykisan has turned the table and blamed the Central Government for the untold misery being endured by the people of Manipur.

Joykisan recalled that while BJP State election management committee convenor Th Chaoba appreciated the State Government’s decision of creating seven new districts for administrative convenience, lone BJP MLA Th Biswajit asserted that the indefinite economic blockade was invited by the creation of seven districts.

Speaking to media persons at Congress Bhavan here today, Kh Joykisan asked BJP to clarify their position on the creation of the new districts. To the Congress party, it appears that the BJP is hoodwinking the public when two leaders of the same party made contradictory remarks on a particular issue.

BJP must come out with an unambiguous clarification whether they support the UNC’s economic blockade or not, Joykisan demanded. People are aware that the UNC is a mouthpiece of NSCN-IM. There is no room for the State Government to intervene in the dialogue process going on between NSCN-IM and the Government of India.

Both the NSCN-IM and the Government of India can get the economic blockade lifted any time but none of them seems to be interested to solve the issue, Joykisan decried. BJP National president Amit Shah was on record stating that the economic blockade can be lifted any time they wish. BJP’s claim that they would not allow blockades in Manipur clearly indicates that several means are at their disposal to get the ongoing economic blockade lifted.

Cong responsible for blockade: Javadekar

The Sangai Express / PTI

New Delhi, January 25 2017: Congress is practising ‘divisive’ politics and is responsible for the economic blockade in Manipur, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar today alleged and said people of the State have seen through its game plan and will elect a BJP Government.

‘People of Manipur are suffering due to the economic blockade on highways. The movement of goods and services has crippled and prices have skyrocketed. Congress and Chief Minister Ibobi Singh are completely responsible for this,’ he told reporters. Javadekar, who is the BJP in-charge for Manipur, said Congress’s game plan for small political gains is to ‘divide’ people of Manipur and rule the State for the fourth time. But this will not be possible because people have seen through Congress’s game, he said.

‘On the eve of the election, they divide people? They do not rule the State, they loot it. Therefore, we are very confident that this time, people will throw the Ibobi Singh dispensation out and elect a BJP Government,’ he said.

Congress intending candidate urges

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 25 2017: Congress intending candidate from Heingang AC has today urged Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee to allot party ticket for Heingang AC to deserving candidate. Speaking to mediapersons at Manipur Press Club, Paonam Sunder, intending Congress candidate said, ‘I quit BJP on October 26, 2016 and was accorded warm welcome by Congress.

Yan glem Mangi, former member of BJP also joined Congress and is now one of the Congress intending candidates fro Heingang AC’. In the meantime, former BJP member Pangeijam Sarat is also an intending Congress candidate from Heingang AC.

It has been alleged that Paonam Sunder, Yanglem Mangi and Pangeijam Sarat have resolved to appeal MPCC to give the party ticket to Sarat’.

He maintained that the rumour is baseless and there was no agreement as alleged by some people.

‘On the other hand, Kapu, another intending Congress intending candidate has been telling people that he will be the one to contest in the election from Heingang AC on Congress ticket as there is no other party representative. Kapu should refrain from making such statement and instead work together to strengthen the party,’ he stated.

Looking beyond the party of the candidate: Study their antecedents

The Sangai Express Editorial 26 January 2017

It will be a show down between the Congress and the BJP. No doubt about it. But what is it that the people or rather Manipur really need? Will the people go for the party or will they look at the candidate, his or her standing in society, his or her sincerity and the service he or she has rendered so far? If the past is any indication, it is the party which will matter more and this is precisely the reason why there have been so many voices of discontentment, with some bordering on anger, when the BJP came out with its first list of 31 candidates.

Nothing wrong in going for the party, but at least some thoughts ought to be given to the candidates in the fray too. What is the vision of the candidate, say standing for the election on the ticket of X party? What about his or her morals? How about his or her character? These are all important questions for after the election, it is the elected candidate that the people will be in touch with and not the party to which he or she belongs.

Not promoting personality cult, but studying the antecedents of the candidates in the fray is of utmost importance. Will the voters be in a position to convey their wishes and aspirations to the candidate once he or she is elected? How accessible will the candidate be if in the event he or she is elected. There is a lesson to be learnt from the past and if the people have still not learnt a point or two from the past, then it is time they do now. The past should be the lesson to guide the future and in going for any candidate, the people need to rejig their memories and study the antecedents of all the candidates in the fray.

The term is for five years, but remember in choosing the candidate, the people will be charting out their future. Five years down the line and what is it that the people want? These are questions which should feature in the consciousness of the people. Judging by what is going on, it is doubtful whether these questions have been seriously studied by the people or not and if the past is any indication, it may be safe to surmise that no one has seriously studied what their positions will be five years later.

This is where the value of one’s vote need to be acknowledged and given due weightage. It is something much more than choosing one’s representative but is also about the future, the future of the young kids and the future of the place. What plans have the BJP and the Congress spelt out for the next five years?

Why are these two political parties more keen on landing blows on one another while not explicitly highlighting where they want to take Manipur after five years? And since the two principal parties have not explicitly spelt out their stand on this, it is the duty of the voters to raise this question now. Consider the party to which the candidate belong, this is important, no doubt, but more importantly study the character of the candidate. This is what Manipur needs.

Two former Congress MLAs Valte, Nemcha join BJP, Kim Gangte follows suit from AITC
Ibobi in cahoots with NSCN (IM) in imposing blockade : BJP

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 25 2017: Claiming that many ‘good’ Congress leaders have quit their party and joined BJP, BJP leaders have exuded confidence that the party would score a sweeping victory in the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election. Meanwhile, two former Congress MLAs namely Vungzagin Valte and Nemcha Kipgen, and All India Trinamool Congress Manipur Pradesh president Kim Gangte have joined Congress and they were accorded a warm reception at the office of BJP Manipur Pradesh today.

Many key BJP leaders including National general secretary Ram Madhav, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, State president K Bhabananda, State election management committee convenor Th Chaoba and lone BJP MLA Th Biswajit were also present at the felicitation function. They maintained that Chief Minister O Ibobi and NSCN-IM have a tacit understanding.

According to them, Ibobi has been colluding with NSCN-IM to get economic blockade imposed before every election so that he could win. Even as the Government of India has already provided adequate strength of Central paramilitary forces, the State Government is still unable to clear the economic blockade. Claiming that no one dares to impose blockades in BJP-ruled States, the BJP leaders said that they would end all blockades within one hour.

Let Ibobi resign for two days and President’s Rule be imposed in the State. Then BJP will end the blockade. There will be no blockades in BJP-ruled Manipur, they asserted. If BJP takes over the State’s governance, people will forget what bandhs and blockades are. BJP will never allow blockades in Manipur as long as it remains in power. All seven lakh unemployed youth of the State would be given employment within five years, promised BJP.

‘We will investigate all 1528 fake encounter cases in Manipur and all those responsible will go to jail including Ibobi and Gaikhangam’, the BJP leaders asserted.

Ram Madhav claimed that the present and the future belong to BJP, and Congress and AITC are the past.

In sync with Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari’s promise of awarding different road projects amounting to Rs 22,000 crore to the State, BJP has started work on Imphal-Jiribam highway. Pointing out that there were 600 bandhs and blockades in Manipur during the 15 years of Congress rule, Ram Madhav maintained that Ibobi has no moral right to continue in office. NSCN-IM should understand that the blockade is anti-people and UNC should end the blockade, he added.

Voters’ Day educates electorates in districts

Imphal Free Press

National Voters’ Day was held today under the auspices of District Election Officer (DEO), Senapati/Kangpokpi at Brig Thomas Ground, Kangpokpi with the theme ‘Empowering Young and Future Voters’ under SVEEP Plan (2016-17). Distribution of EPIC to new electors, skit show and quiz competition from students of various schools of Kangpokpi area were the main highlights of the programme. Election Officer (EO), Kangpokpi, Chungsat Khongsai administered National Voters’ Day pledge to the gatherings.

Parizeau Maranatha Academy bagged the first prize in the quiz competition while Light House School and Diamond English School came second and third respectively. ADC/ERO, Kangpokpi T. Manihar Singh distributed EPIC to new voters while SDC (Hqtrs), Kangpokpi, Kaigoulal Kipgen gave away prizes to the winners of the quiz competition and skit show. Speaking on the occasion, Chungsat Khongsai said that the National Voters’ Day is celebrated with the objective to spread awareness among citizens regarding effective participation in the electoral process and to increase enrolment of voters.

‘69% of political funds from unknown sources’
Association for Democratic Reforms says the income of national parties from unknown sources increased by 313%

By Devesh K. Pandey
The Hindu

NEW DELHI:  JANUARY 24, 2017: The total income of national and regional political parties between 2004-05 and 2014-15 stood at ₹11,367 crore, with the highest of ₹3,982 crore being the Congress’s share. However, 69% of the income of these parties was from unknown sources, according to an analysis done by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

The income of national parties from unknown sources increased by 313% during the decade; for the regional parties, it went up by 652%. The BSP is the only party which has got 100% of its income through donations from unknown sources. Its total income increased by 2,057%, from ₹5.19 crore during 2004-05 to ₹111.96 crore during 2014-15.

The ADR report, released on Tuesday, states that the details of donors pertaining only to ₹1,835.63 crore were available. The income from other known sources, such as the sale of assets, membership fees, bank interest, the sale of publications and party levy, was ₹1,698.73 crore, about 15% of the total.

While about 43% of the total income of six national parties was that of the Congress, the BJP stood second with ₹3,272.63 crore, just over 35%. The CPI(M) declared the third highest income of about ₹893 crore. ‘About 83% of the total income of the Congress, amounting to ₹3,323.39 crore, and 65% of total income of the BJP, amounting to ₹2,125.91 crore, came from unknown sources.’

Voluntary contributions

The total donations above ₹20,000 per entry, for which the national parties are to declare the sources, was about ₹1405.19 crore and the BJP topped the list for declaring the maximum of ₹918 crore voluntary contributions in the category. ‘The donations declared by the BJP are more than twice the donations declared by the Congress during the same period,’ said the report.

The BSP has not reported any donation above ₹20,000 in the past 11 years, while the Nationalist Congress Party has not submitted its donations report to the Election Commission between 2004-05 and 2006-07. The Congress has declared donations of ₹400.32 crore.

I-T returns

According to the ADR, the Income-Tax returns of 42 of the 51 regional parties analysed were unavailable for at least one financial year. The total declared income of regional parties during the period stood at ₹2,089 crore, the highest being that of the Samajwadi Party at ₹819 crore, followed by the DMK with ₹203 crore and the AIADMK with ₹165 crore.

Based on the findings, the ADR has recommended that full details of all donors be made available for public scrutiny under the RTI.

‘Some countries where this is done include Bhutan, Nepal, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, the United States and Japan. In none of these countries it it possible for almost 75% of the source of funds to be unknown, but at present it is so in India,’ said the report, adding any organisation that receives foreign funding should not be allowed to support or campaign for any candidate or political party.

Tax exemption

Recently, the report mentioned that the Election Commission had recommended that tax exemption be awarded only to those political parties which contest and win seats in Lok Sabha or Assembly elections. The EC also suggested that details of all donors who donate above ₹2,000 be made public. Scrutiny of the political party’s financial documents should be conducted annually by a body approved by the EC and the Comptroller and Auditor General for greater transparency and accountability, the report said.

CM goes on the offensive against BJP; UNC is mouthpiece of IM : Ibobi

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 24 2017: Chief Minister Okram Ibobi has categorically stated that the United Naga Council is a mouthpiece of the NSCN-IM which is under a dialogue process with the Government of India. Addressing a press conference at the conference hall of the CM Secretariat this afternoon, Ibobi stated that he met Union Home Minister Rajnath when the UNC’s economic blockade was at the initial stage.

‘I appealed Rajnath Singh to intervene for NSCN-IM is under a dialogue process with the Government of India and UNC is a mouthpiece of NSCN-IM. Besides pointing out that blockades are illegal, I made it clear that the State Government’s appeal to lift the blockade should not fall fall on deaf ears’, Ibobi conveyed.

The Union Home Minister responded that he would get the economic blockade lifted the next day if the State Government gives an assurance that Sadar Hills and Jiribam would not be declared as full fledged districts.

‘I replied that creation of districts is an internal matter of the State. If new districts should be created, it would be done for administrative convenience. Leave aside NSCN-IM and UNC, no authority can dictate the State Government on such matters’, Ibobi recounted.

Nevertheless, the Chief Minister that the State Government is always ready to hold talks with all stake holders and the agitating group to resolve the issue of economic blockade. The State Government has written to the Union Home Ministry in this regard. However, as of now, no time frame has been intimated to the State Government. He continued that he again met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh together with Deputy Chief Minister recently. That time, the Union Home Minister did not speak much.

Yet, one Defence advisor and a Home Secretary asked about keeping vehicles off Imphal-Dimapur highway. But they never asked about deployment of Central paramilitary forces along Imphal-Jiribam highway and movement of trucks along the highway.Movement of trucks along Imphal-Dimapur highway has two problems.

First, drivers and transporters don’t want to travel along the highway despite the State Government’s assurance for ex-gratia of Rs 20 lakh and a Government job to the next of kin of any driver/transporter in case they meet any fatality while transporting goods along the highway. Secondly, army and Central paramilitary forces are ready to carry out only area domination exercises in their respective areas but they have been insisting that only the State police should deal with protest agitation by women and other groups that may result from any attempt to open the highway.

When womenfolk sit in the middle of the road and block the highway, State police can neither charge them with baton nor open fire. The State Government has no intention to unleash any form of violence, Ibobi stated. The NPF Government of Nagaland is backed by NSCN-IM and UNC, and the NPF Government is an ally of BJP, alleged Ibobi. NPF, NSCN-IM and UNC have been conspiring to destroy the integrity of Manipur.

They have been threatening intending candidates to contest the forthcoming election on NPF tickets or tickets of non-Congress parties but not on Congress ticket, further charged the Chief Minister. As such, many people have been forced to leave Congress party even though they love the party. This was testified by what Francis Ngajokpa said when he left Congress party, Ibobi continued. If the integrity of Manipur must be protected, people should always be wary of BJP.

Everyone witnessed to what happened in Manipur when Union Home Minister LK Advani of the previous NDA Government inserted the phrase ‘without territorial limits’ in the cease fire agreement the NDA Government signed with NSCN-IM, recalled Ibobi. If BJP and their State leaders sincerely love Manipur, they should divulge the details of the Framework Agreement signed between the Government of India and NSCN-IM. They must urge the Prime Minister to disclose the details of the Framework Agreement before joining BJP.

Cong Govt has failed: Bhabananda; BJP questions legitimacy of Ibobi Government

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 24 2017: Asserting that the incumbent Government is bereft of political will and has failed miserably in public administration, BJP Manipur Pradesh president Ksh Bhabananda has asked whether it’s not time for the Congress Government to resign. Speaking at a political rally held at Wabagai Keirak Keithel ground today under the aegis of BJP Kakching District, Bhabananda said that the Congress Government should stop blaming BJP when it cannot resolve the issue of economic blockade.

Saying that the Chief Minister has said or done nothing regarding the economic blockade, Bhabananda asked whether he is ruling the State or not. More and more people now abhor the irresponsible Congress Government and they have no right to continue in office.

BJP is fully confident that it would score landslide victories in all the five States which would be going to polls in the next couple of months. Massive participation in BJP’s election rallies is clear indication that more and more people now believe that there would be a BJP Government in the State. The recent recruitment drives were not about giving jobs. They were more about purchasing jobs, Bhabananda decried.

The incumbent Congress Government is Government of businessmen and they are not ruling the State. Bhabananda then appealed to the people to take money from Congress and vote for BJP. None of the Ministers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have been tainted with corruption even though they have completed two years and a half in office.

Cong MLAs strongly refute ‘misleading news’: No plan to change party: Lokeshwor

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 24 2017: Manipur Legislative Assembly Speaker Th Lokeshwor has denied the information published in a daily newspaper which alleged that four MLAs including a Congress Minister might switch side to BJP, terming it false and misleading. Speaking to media persons at Manipur Legislative Assembly complex today, Th Lokeshwor said, ‘It is really unfortunate that such a misleading news was published without ascertaining its authenticity’.

Pointing out that switching parties was off the equation, he said, ‘It is saddening that such kind of baseless rumours were published as news’. He urged the concerned to determine the credibility and authencity of such news before publishing it in their newspaper.

Lokheshwor further requested all the organisations concerned to refrain from publishing such baseless items and assured that he had no intention of switching sides to any other political party.

Kakching MLA, Y Surchandra said, ‘All these rumours are baseless. If I get the Congress ticket, I will contest the election as Congress candidate. I have no plan to switch to another party’.

Commerce and Industry Minister, Govindash Kon-thoujam said that it would be better to check the source and credibility of a news before publishing it. He pointed out that they were not going to change sides just for their self interests. Speaking through telephone, Sekmai A/C MLA Kh Debendro also urged the people not to believe the rumours.

He urged the people not to be swayed by such baseless rumour aimed to stain the party’s image and assured that there were no plans to switch sides. Manipur Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker Preshaw Shimray, Khurai A/C MLA Dr Ng Bijoy, Parliamentary Secretary MOBC Amin Shah and Konthoujam A/C MLA K Sarat were also present at the meet.

Spurned BJP intending candidate speaks out

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 24 2017: Contending that internal rift and feud have become hallmarks of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the State, Khuraijam Loken who was preparing to contest the ensuing State Assembly election from Wangoi Assembly Constituency on BJP ticket said that various political parties have approached him to contest the election on their ticket after he failed to earn a slot in the first list of BJP candidates.

Addressing a political conference held at his Yumnam Huidrom Thiyam Leishangkhong residence yesterday, Loken said that he was not compelled to make the statement just because he failed to get the party ticket. He said that he has no intention to hurl allegations at the BJP from where he started his political career. There has been a feeling of discontent amongst the party’s senior members as preference for allotting the party ticket for the election has been given to new candidates, he lamented.

Loken mentioned that he will join another political party and fight the coming election to continue serving the people of Wangoi Constituency at his best level. He said that the people of Wangoi would not pardon the wrongdoings of BJP in allotment of ticket for the election.

Election campaign gaining momentum

The Sangai Express

Bishnupur, January 24 2017: As BJP has officially declared its first list of candidates for the upcoming Assembly election, intending candidates from Moirang AC have started campaigning strongly for their respective party, reports our correspondent. All the three intending candidates from Moirang AC local MLA M Prithviraj Singh, Th Shanti Singh and P Saratchandra Singh- have today undertaken campaign in various areas of the AC.

Th Shanti, Congress intending candidate, conducted a road show along Moirang Kokilbon-Moirang Ngangkha Leikai road. The campaign was joined by around 10 thousand supporters of Th Shanti. Local MLA M Prithviraj Singh also undertook a house campaign in Moirang Municipal Council Ward No 8. On the other hand, BJP intending candidate P Saratchandra Singh also conducted a house campaign in Moirang Municipal Council Ward No 6, 7 and 8

Does Manipur want another spell of Cong rule? The all important poser

The Sangai Express Editorial 25 January 2017

Does Manipur want another spell of Congress rule or will it go for a change come voting day on March 4 and March 8.

Tough to say but it is important to question whether such a thing as anti- incumbency will have a say on how the voters behave or not. This question is interesting in the face of the fact that unlike the last Assembly election in 2012, the Congress has a competitor this time, and a tough one at that in the BJP and it will be interesting to see how the party which has ruled the State for the last 15 years will try to extend their spell in power for another term and how successfully the saffron party will be able to ring out the message that the time for change has come.

As pointed out on more than one occasion, the longer the United Naga Council continue with the economic blockade, the better the prospect of the Congress will be and it will be interesting to see how the BJP will try not to make the economic blockade the deciding factor in the upcoming Assembly election. Blockade is not new to Manipur and remember when the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee and the United Naga Council, one after the other, imposed the more than 120 days of economic blockade over the Sadar Hills issue at the fag end of 2011.

That blockade did work in the favour of the Congress then if one takes into consideration the fact that the Congress returned with a thumping majority, winning 42 seats in the 2012 Assembly election. The more than 120 days economic blockade and the absence of a viable alternative to the Congress scripted the resounding success story of the Congress back in 2012, and the question is whether this will be repeated this time too.

Much will however depend on how the BJP manages to hammer home the point that the economic blockade cannot and should not be an election issue. This is where the interesting part lies and much will depend on the political acumen of the BJP leaders not to make the blockade an issue around which the poll should centre. Tough to say how the BJP will go about doing it, for remember the ongoing economic blockade has affected the daily existence of the common people and it is the voice of the common people which will ultimately matter the most when election time comes.

Apart from the blockade, the Congress will no doubt go to town with the message that the first list of the BJP candidates has numerous former Congress MLAs. It is not without reason why the slogan ‘Vote for BJP and elect your old Congress MLA’ has gone viral on social networking sites. Again it is this which the BJP has to counter. Interesting days are certainly ahead.

Sticking on UNC’s issues will only benefit Congress

Imphal Times Editorial 25 January 25 2017

What was witness in the last fifteen years of Congress rule in the state is not an issue for the upcoming Manipur legislative Assembly election. Corruption, nepotism, human rights violations and of course the controversial Armed Forces Special Power Act, (AFSPA), 1958 seems like to be of no concern to the people. It is the economic blockade that is sweeping mind of the people who will hand over the power to govern the state for five years. UNC’s prolonged economic blockade is the core issue of the upcoming assembly election.

People as well as political parties have now stopped discussing about the misgovernance, corruption or human rights violation, but everyone is driven to the issues encircling around UNC’s economic blockade. Everyday discussion hours in local televisions are about the UNC’s blockade. Congress party blames BJP and the BJP blames Congress for the UNC’s unsettle problems. Even the Manipur High Court had summoned top officials of the Law Enforcers over their inability to open the National Highway 2.

With media or public platform flooded by words of critique to the UNC’s prolonged economic blockade, something that is coming up to the public spare is that the UNC’s issue cannot be suppressed by force. This is known to both BJP and the Congress. But both the parties keep continuing to play their game sideling the fact that the UNC’s problem can be only solved through politically. It is an open secret that the agenda of the UNC is the Frame work agreement signed between the NSCN-IM and the India Government in August last year.

Following the signing of the Framework agreement, the NSCN-IM collective leadership has been propagating the Naga dominated area of the state convincing the public about the creation of an administration where all Nagas as claimed by the NSCN-IM can be put under one administrative unit. District creation by the Manipur government is not the root of the UNC’s economic blockade. But it is rather the disruption of the dream being built up by the NSCN-IM.

Remember 9 days before the Government of Manipur had announced the 7 new revenue district, the UNC has already called total shut down along the National Highways for two days and later followed the economic blockade from midnight of October 31 last year. Talk about potential agitation demanding new district creations spread like wild fire, but there was no official indication of the Government preparing the announcement of the creation of the seven new district.

When NSCN-IM can still gain massive supports from certain sections of people, it is not right to underestimate the outfit. Even a layman knows that the issues of the UNC can only be settled through dialogue. Then why the center instead of initiating a dialogue throws the ball to the court of the state government. Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh who had rule the state for 15 years is more experience I handling issues of Manipur and the more the center blame he got more advantage.

Before the economic blockade started, it was about the rampant corruption, mass appointment to the government department which has been major election agenda. It is at this point that, we the voters of the state now need to understand why every political parties particularly the BJP and the Congress are sidelining all issues but playing game with the UNC blockade. A senior BJP leader while speaking to a public meeting had once said that announcement of the economic blockade will only brought catastrophe to the state.

The statement was true but in electoral politics the UNC’s agenda is not a factor that will get majority seat in the 60 assembly constituencies. National BJP leaders seems to have forgotten that appeasing the UNC will only mean only some seat in NSCN-IM control assembly constituencies which is not more than 5. When Congress Strongman Okram Ibobi Singh knows that to form government in the center there is nothing wrong in ignoring UNC issue.

It cannot be denied that , Manipur’s safety is priority for all and playing politics without understanding that no force across the globe can distort the boundary of Manipur. (Prof. N. Sanajaoba) A sincere appealed to other political party particularly the BJP other than the Congress party is than divert the issue, talk UNC through NSCN-IM and advice them to end the economic blockade and then start taking up issues of corruption, and the mass appointment of government employees in the government department. It is not that Imphal Times support BJP but Imphal Times suggest because handing of power to a single person for four terms will make no difference than a dictator. The beauty of democracy may lose its significance.

AMWJU warns political parties

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 23

The All Manipur Working Journalist Union (AMWJU) warned the political parties and candidates of the coming Manipur Assembly Election not to bribe the reporters for news coverage by paying money. Addressing a press meet held today at the Manipur Press Club Majorkhul, Imphal AMWJU president Wangkhemcha Samjai said that press is considered as the fourth estate. He said that yesterday some ticket protester in front of BJP office gave Rs 200 asking to publish their news in front page to reporters who came to cover the news in front of the public.

He added that payment to reporters for news coverage should not be happen in the future and not to repeat such unwanted things. AMWJU general secretary Jit Ningombam further supplemented that if any political parties, candidates or any organisations found paying to reporters for news coverage along with evidence then AMWJU will complain to Election Commission of India as well as take up necessaries action according to the law including the reporter.

He added that if anyone wants to help the media, they can help in the development works of the media instead of paying for news coverage. Manipur Press Club secretary Sarojkumar Sharma said that Reliance Jio is offering free Wi-Fi connection at the press club for the convenience of the journalists which will be installed very soon. He added that the company is also in the process to sponsor jacket and caps for the journalists.

Airlifting of goods hailed

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 23

The central government led by Narendra Modi has begun airlifting of petroleum products and essential commodities in view of the extended economic blockade, according to BJP MLA Th Biswajit Singh. Speaking in a press meet held at his Sanjenthong quarter State BJP General Secretary Th Biswajit said that the centre has taken up many developmental projects for the state which Congress failed to take up in the past 20 years.

He said that the NDA Government has sanctioned Rs 9658 crores for the railway project with the target to complete by 2019. For the connectivity of all the capitals of North Eastern States of India through broad-gauge NDA government has sanctioned 7000 Crores with the target to complete in the year 2019.

He said that the Congress government should be thankful of all these development projects and to stop blaming central government for the unrest in the state. BJP MLA Th Biswajit charged state Assembly speaker Th Lokeshwar Singh saying that he is unable to understand developmental projects carried out for the state.

It’s official: BJP first list out

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 23

Four former Congressmen who deserted the party appeared in the list as BJP officially released the first list of candidates with 31 names to contest in the 11th Legislative Assembly Election 2017, today. The list was released on BJP’s official website today by the Central Election Committee of the party. The release said that the Central Election Committee which convened a meeting on January 19 with national president Amit Shah in the chair cleared the names.

The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh, Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley, and other members of the Central Election Committee of the BJP. A source from the BJP said that the list was prepared based on winnability after meticulous calculation by the committee. There have been slight changes in the list when compared to earlier list of 32 candidates released through social networking sites unofficially. The release of the unofficial list created a ruckus in constituencies where there were over two intending BJP candidates.

On June 20, supporters of Chunngkham Bijoy Singh, an intending candidate of BJP, from Patsoi protested in front of BJP office. There were three BJP intending candidates in Patsoi namely Bijoy, Premananda and Patsoi Keba. Of them, the Premanda made it to the list. Protest against this decision was also staged before the BJP Manipur office gate yesterday. The four former Congressmen who got BJP tickets three were former Ministers in Ibobi’s government, namely N Biren Singh, Y Irabot Singh and Francis Ngajokpa and a former MLA, Z Kikhonbou Newmai.

Y Irabot Singh, even while he was in the Ibobi’s government was considered a bitter  rival of the chief minister and bad blood always marked relationship between the two. Y Irabot Singh was the first to take the bold decision of leaving the Congress to join the BJP fold. N Biren Singh, who followed in the footsteps of Y Irabot was a major player in dissident group of the Congress.

Both, Irabot and Biren were cabinet ministers during the first two terms of Ibobi regime and later were leaders of dissident groups of the Congress demanding mid-term re-shuffle in Ibobi’s cabinet. Francis Ngajokpa, the rural development and panchayati raj minister in the early part of the current Ibobi regime, was sacked during the last re-shuffle. Just few months after he was dropped from the cabinet, he also joined the BJP. Kikhonbou Newmai, quit Congress when United Naga Council (UNC) banned congress MLAs and minister including Chief Minister from entering in Naga territories for creating seven new districts. He was also the vice chairman of the Hills Areas Committee (HAC).
Surprisingly, the BJP has bent its standing policy of not issuing tickets to candidates above 75 years of age in the context of Manipur, with Y Irabot and Th Chaoba, who have crossed the age limit, making it to the list. Another interesting candidate in the list is former IPS officer Th Radhesyam Singh, who will be contesting from Heirok assembly constituencies. Radhesyam, retired from as IPS amidst controversies of irregularities in recruitment of police constable in Manipur police department conducted in 2013.

He was the chairman of the recruitment board instructed to recruit 2000 male police constables. After conducting necessary physical test, 10,287 candidates were declared eligible for the interview but the interview was halted by the Home Department after detecting irregularities in earlier recruitment process. A case is pending with the High Court of Manipur regarding the case.

CM responsible for blockade : BJP MLA

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 23 2017: Coming down heavily on the Ibobi-led Congress Government in the State, general secretary of BJP Manipur Pradesh Th Biswajit alleged that it is due to the present Government’s bleak policy that United Naga Council (UNC) is continuing with its indefinite economic blockade on National Highways, causing immense hardships to the people.

Addressing newspersons at his official quarters at Sanjenthong this evening, Bishwajit who is also the MLA of Thongju Assembly Constituency cautioned that the Government should take sole responsibility for any untoward incident arising out of the prolonged blockade. Dismissing the claim made by Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly, Th Lokeshwar during a political conference held at Laipham Khunou yesterday that BJP Government at the Centre is not trying enough to end the blockade, he asked as to why the Congress Government sent a report to the Centre on the blockade only on November 11.

The indefinite economic blockade began from November 1 of last year. What was the State Government doing during the ten days, he wondered. The MLA contended that the crisis over the blockade worsened after Chief Minister O Ibobi inaugurated seven new districts. Instead of trying to bring UNC to the negotiating table to end the blockade, CM Ibobi tried to gain political mileage by claiming that he was attacked while going to inaugurate the new districts in Naga areas, he said.

Reiterating that the Central Governemnt had already sent adequate security forces to the State to ensure the free supply of goods, Bishwajit reminded that people have witnessed economic blockade when there was UPA Government at the Centre and Congress Government at the State.

The MLA claimed he along with president of BJP Manipur Pradesh K Bhabananda, convenor of State Election Management Committee Th Chaoba and spokesperson N Biren had urged Central leaders including the Prime Minister and Home Minister to intervene.

JD (U) releases manifesto Party to go alone in all 60 seats

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 23 2017: As election campaign is continuing in full swing, Janata Dal (United) Manipur State Unit today released its election manifesto at its office located at New Checkon Hatta. The programme was also attended by Limjalet Haokip, vice president, JD(U) Manipur State Unit, M Dorendro, secretary general, JD(U) Manipur State Unit, H Rabikanta, general secretary (organisation), JD(U) Manipur State Unit, N Romabati, general secretary, JD(U) Manipur State Unit Mahila Women Wing and Y Jutin, president, JD(U) Manipur State Unit Youth Front.

Speaking at the programme, M Dorendro said that as the party has released the election manifesto today, the party would also like the public to know that JD(U) Manipur State Unit will not tie up with any political party in the upcoming Assembly election and that the party will field its candidates in all 60 ACs.

He also informed that the Central Committee meeting held in January 14 has resolved not to tie up with any political party in the State Assembly election. ‘We will follow the instruction of JD(U) National leaders,’ he reaffirmed.

The party has also started issuing application forms to the intending candidates with February 7 as the last date. So far, 11 intending candidates have obtained the application forms, he added.

The 9-point manifesto promises alternative lifeline for transportation of goods to the State through Bishnupur or Churachandpur via Pherzawl or Nungba and Jiribam district. It also assured to invite all the stakeholders to the negotiating table for an amicable, non-communal and permanent settlement of insurgency problems, implementing reservation of 33 per cent of seats for women in both the State Legislative Assembly and Autonomous District Councils and 50 per cent of seats in both Zilla Parishad and local bodies.

The manifesto also promised to set up more universities in the State especially in the hill districts and a special project to solve the shortage of potable water. The party said that it will introduce a pension/allowance scheme at the rate of Rs 3000 per month for the educated unemployed youth so as to discourage the youth from indulging in anti-social activities and enhance the pension scheme rate for widows and widowers to Rs 1000 per head. The manifesto further promised to introduce a comprehensive and highly productive farming system and enforce a complete ban on liquor and other intoxicating substances in the State.

No women, only one Muslim in BJP’s 1st list

The Sangai Express

Guwahati, January 23 2017: The BJP on Monday released its first list, comprising names of 31 candidates, for the two-phase Manipur elections scheduled for March 4 and 8. Three former Manipur Congress Ministers, N Biren Singh, Yumkham Erabot Singh and Francis Ngajokpa; two former Congress MLAs Dr Kh Loken and Z Kikhonbou Newmai, and Congress leader Dr S Ranjan were among the candidates, whose names were announced on Monday.

Interestingly, there is no woman candidate in BJP’s first list. Also, it contained the name of just one Muslim, Md Anwar Hussain. Muslims account for 6 % of Manipur’s around 26 lakh population.

According to BJP sources, the names of the remaining 29 candidates will be announced on January 27. Nemcha, Valte to join BJP tomorrow: Former Congress MLAs Nemcha Kipgen and Vungzagin Valte and the party’s vice president S Achouba, who resigned on Sunday, would join the BJP on Wednesday.

Congress plus a cow

Imphal Free Press editorial, 24 Jan 2017

The BJP has released its first list of 31 candidates today. The list was more or less known a week earlier when the party leaked it as a tentative list to the media and today’s list was virtually the same. As was expected, the BJP is building a team largely out of defectors from other parties, in particular from the ruling Congress as this first list indicates. No points for guessing that the party will be angling for more defectors, again from the ruling Congress, which undoubtedly is one of the biggest reasons for declaring only half its total candidatures in the 60 member house today. As rumours have it, there are even some cabinet ministers from the Okram Ibobi government waiting in line, and this too was expected. In the last three terms of the Congress government under chief minister Ibobi, except for a few very senior ministers, the practice has been to award ministerial berths by rotation after each of the terms. This time too, there is unlikely to be much break from this tradition and hence it is only to be expected that many minor ministers in the current Ibobi cabinet would like to look for greener pastures elsewhere, and if the BJP offers them this pasture, they would probably jump into its fold. For the ruling party however, this award of ministerial berths by rotation has been a successful formula to keep the Congress flock together so why would the Congress leadership want to change it now. If it did so and indicated it would retain the same ministers in its next cabinet (if at all), second rung leaders of the party now waiting to replace those who have had a taste of cabinet berth, would get rebellious and probably defect. In this sense, this tradition has been more a compulsions of political survival rather than consideration of good governance. Let us elaborate a little more.

We all know the Anti-Defection Law has put a ceiling of 15 per cent of the strength of the House on the size of the council of ministers in the Assembly as well as the Parliament. For small states like Manipur, this has been relaxed a little to bring up the absolute number to 12, including the chief minister. This means, any chief minister will have just 11 ministers to induct in his cabinet. This is quite unlike the pre-Anti Defection Law days when practically everybody in the ruling party was in the council of ministers, either as cabinet minister or else state ministers. In a place like Manipur where politics is no longer much of a public service, but reduced to an instrument of personal aggrandisement, every politician’s ambition is to have a lever of state power and a key to the state exchequer. Under the circumstance, 12 ministerial berths are too few for any ruling party to keep every ambitious MLA happy and therefore be free of dissidents and defectors. Once upon a time, before the 10th Schedule (which contains the Anti-Defection Law) introduced by the 52nd amendment of the Constitution in 1985 was conceived of, MLAs unhappy with his or her parent party could defect to another party of his choice without any problem. Those were the days when governments were never steady and were perpetually held at ransom by dissidents. Today MLAs cannot switch sides easily though legislative parties can merge with each other if a majority of the MLAs consent to do so (as it happened in Arunachal Pradesh). Politicians can however switch sides without attracting the 10th Schedule if they do so before the elections (as it happened in Assam and is happening in Manipur now).

BJP loyalist for long, and now a dissenter, former journalist and author of repute, Arun Shourie’s caricature of the BJP probably is a perfect picture of the BJP Manipur. He described the BJP as ‘Congress plus a cow’. Indeed, at this moment, with flocks of ex-Congress politicians filling up its ranks and files, the BJP and the Congress are beginning to increasingly look like each other. If there were alternatives to these two parties, not only credible but also capable of forming a stable government on their own, probably a lot of people would have opt for them. Perhaps a third front of smaller parties with commitment to broad-based, liberal ideology and to the people they pledge to serve, is the need of the hour. A drubbing by such a federation would have been good lesson for those in these bigger parties who have patronised and institutionalised ideology-devoid, self-serving politics, thereby ruining not only politics, but also people’s faith in politics.

Lokeshore blames Centre

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 22

Speaker of Manipur Legislative assembly Th Lokeshore has laid the blame for the continuation of UNC economic blockade to the central government. He was speaking during a one day political conference of Heingang Block Mahila Congress Committee. The political conference was organised by Heingang Block Mahila Congress Committee held today at Mitong Lampak of Laipham Khunou.

Concerned over the prolonged economic blockade in the State, Lokeshwar said that it is high time for the central government to intervene and end this economic blockade. Heingang Constituency is inhabited with different communities of the State. He lauded N Ratan Singh who is more popularly known as Kapu that he is capable maintaining peaceful co existence of the all the communities.

Further lamenting recent frequent visits from Union Ministers into the state, Speaker Lokeshwar said that the union Ministers has actually failed to bring peace in the state. He said that BJP National leaders have never brought good for the state.

The political conference was also attended by Kakching MLA Y Surchandra, Thanga MLA T Mangibabu, Khurai MLA Ng Bijoy, President Mahila Morcha MPCC L Tilotama, Heingang besides N Ratan Singh alias Kapu and other congress workers.

MNDF raises regionalism

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL| Jan 22

Manipur National Democratic Front (MNDF) today organised a one day political conference under the theme ‘regionalism is the need of hour to save Manipur’. The public discourse was held at Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai Community Hall under 12 Keishamthong assembly constituency of Imphal West.

Panelists said, national political parties simply do not take interest in safeguarding integrity, development, prosperity of the state. Giving the key note of the conference, Lein Gangte, Vice President of the party asked people to think over the reasons behind the fall of regional parties in the state while it is progressing in many other big states of India.

No national party will be able to understand or love or care the ground situation of the problems prevailing in the state nor they will be able to or try to solve the problem as a regional party does, he claimed. Reiterating the question of integrity among different communities in the state, he urged for building up of regional ethos and mindset other than doing mere politics based on high commands’ interest stationed at Delhi.

He also highlighted that people of Manipur need new history and new life where there has no compromise in integrity; there is emotional bondage among hill and valley people; where there is no politics in ethnicities.

Bijoy Koijam, working president, MNDF, Ch Priyokumar, president, MNDF and other party members attended the conference. Meanwhile Yumnam Romola Devi was announced as the party candidate for Keishamthong Assembly Constituency during the discussion.

PRJA session

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 22

The Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) has conducted a public meeting with the elders and youths of Yumnam Leikai and Sinam Leikai today at Malem Ima Community Hall, Thangmeiband Yumnam Leikai, Imphal. PRJA convenor Erendro Leichombam shared his vision and hope of creating a powerful anti corruption state and to bring the real democracy in the state.

Erendro said that the state has been contaminated by the dirty political system so PRJA political party was formed to empower ourselves politically and clean up those corrupt and unwanted system in the state. The participation of youth in politics can build peace and bring corruption free development in the state, he said.

He added that we cannot expect any changes in our system if we choose the corrupt leaders by selling out our precious votes. He further added that, ‘by choosing the correct leader who can sacrifice for the welfare of the state, we can easily change our corrupt and unjust system and bring all round development in the state’.

Erendro also urged to the candidates of Thangmeiband Assembly Constituency to agree for an open public debate to allow a democratic way for the people of Thangmeiband to make an informed decision before casting their valuable votes.

ADC Chandel denounces district creation

Newmai News Network
IMPHAL | Jan 22

The members of Autonomous District Council (ADC), Chandel hailing from NPF have strongly denounced the ‘unconstitutional’ creation of seven new districts by the O Ibobi Singh led Congress government. The ADC members alleged that without a single notification or even consulting the people of the respective district the announcement of the cabinet decision was made. They said such move of the government is ‘very questionable’ at this time of ‘chaos and mistrust’ between different communities.

The ADC members said they took this as a ‘devilish’ political game plan of O Ibobi led Congress government for the ensuing assembly election to win the sympathy of the valley people.

The ADC members from NPF then said they also strongly condemned the ‘unlawful detention’ of UNC president Gaidon Kamei and information secretary SK Stephen. They appealed for unconditional release of the two UNC leaders so as to create a conducive atmosphere for holding the tripartite talk between Governme t of India, Manipur Government and UNC.

Official announcement likely soon : BJP MLA

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 22 2017: Lone BJP MLA Thongam Bishworjit has stated that names of BJP candidates for the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election have been finalised and their names would be officially announced in the next couple of days. Speaking to media persons at their Nityaipat Chuthek office today, Th Bishworjit who is also BJP Manipur Pradesh general secretary (administration) said that some more Congress Ministers/MLAs may join BJP and they may be given party tickets.

A meeting of the BJP Parliamentary Board has been held with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah. BJP is the biggest political and well-disciplined party and it has its own set of rules regarding issuance of tickets, Bishworjit said. The first batch of BJP candidates may be announced from Delhi in the next couple of days.

This would be followed by another announcement from BJP Manipur Pradesh. The second batch of BJP candidates would be announced later. There is no internal crisis regarding selection of candidates, Bishworjit claimed. Aspiring candidates may have grievances when they are not given party tickets. Yet there is an understanding among all BJP members and workers to work together whether one gets ticket or not in order to defeat the ruling Congress party, the BJP MLA said.

He also appealed to all aspiring candidates not to raise any uproar because they are not given party tickets. People would certainly see fragmentation of the ruling party into pieces in the next couple of days. It is the Congress party which has developed the largest crack, Bishworjit claimed.

Discontent brewing in BJP over ticket distribution

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 22 2017: The announcement of tickets by BJP has led to discontent among a section of its workers. Hiyanglam, Wangkhem and Thoubal AC BJP Mandal workers today stormed the BJP office at Nityaipat Chuthek at around 11:30 am holding placards inscribed with slogans like, ‘We want just selection’, ‘Select candidate on merit basis’, ‘We condemn BJP Ticket Committee’, etc.

There were discontent among the party workers when the unofficial list of candidates for the forthcoming State Assembly Election was announced recently. Some of the party worker have claimed that the Ticket Committee has totally disregarded the hard works and dedications of some of its workers and allotted party tickets to new members.

Demanding the State BJP leaders to explain their conduct, large number of Hiyanglam, Wangkhem and Thoubal AC BJP Mandal workers today tried to storm the BJP office with a hope to meet the party leaders. They were stopped by the Police who explained that Sunday is an off day for the office.

Speaking to media persons, BJP Thoubal AC Mandal worker Leishangthem Thaja said aspiring BJP candidate Leishangthem Suresh is the only qualified BJP candidate in the AC that has a chance against the Chief Minister.

Questioning why the party ticket was allotted to Leitanthem Bhim, Thaja said, not only is Bhim new to the party, he does not have required qualification to contest as the BJP candidate.

Two Cong MLAs likely to join BJP    

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 22 2017: Even as the finalised first list of BJP candidates for the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election has been published in the media, two Congress MLAs are likely to join BJP and fight the forthcoming election on BJP tickets. The two Congress MLAs who are likely to fight the forthcoming election on BJP tickets are Nemcha Kipgen (Kangpokpi AC) and Vungzagin Valte (Thanlon AC), sources informed.

Nemcha Kipgen was elected in the 10th State Assembly election on MSCP ticket but MSCP later merged with the Congress along with all their elected MLAs. Vungzagin Valte elected from Thanlon AC on Congress ticket is also a Parliamentary Secretary under the Ibobi Government. Regarding the proposed entry of Vungzagin and Nemcha into the party, BJP held a meeting at Guwahati yesterday with National general secretary Ram Madhav.

The meeting decided to recommend the names of Nemcha and Vungzagin to the party’s Parliamentary Board for issuing party tickets, said the sources. As such, it is expected that Vungzagin and Nemcha would definitely get BJP tickets.

Art contest held to educate voters

IMPHAL | Jan 22

Chief electoral officer’s office, in association with two other organisations held a painting competition in Imphal today to increase voter awareness as a part of the Systematic Voter Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) campaign. The organisers claimed that today’s painting competition is the ‘longest art competition’ to increase voter awareness on participation and ethnical voting.

Editors Guild, Manipur and Neo Gene, an art organisation, are partners in organising the competition which was held on the theme ‘Free, fair and peaceful election and ethical voting.’

Nearly 900 contestants including school and college students took part in the competition held on flax canvas which measures 1.5 km on the bank of Kangla moat around Kangla fort, A Mobi, president of Editors Guild Manipur said.

UNC leaders blame Ibobi

IMPHAL | Jan 22

Former presidents of United Naga Council (UNC) squarely blamed Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh for the ongoing economic blockade.

‘The economic blockade was initiated by the Chief Minister. Only his wisdom and realization can stop it,’ a statement jointly signed by former UNC presidents KS Paul Leo, Samson Remei and L Adani said.

The statement said there are four MoUs with Manipur government and Naga organizations on that creation of new districts would not be done without consulting the stakeholders. There is also an assurance from the Centre, based on the declaration of Ibobi in the presence of the Union home minister, Chidambaram and UNC that such sentiment would be respected.

‘The stakeholders are those whose lives, land, livelihood, situation and opportunities would be affected by such decision. This position is democratic, fair and constitutional. These MOUs and assurance did not emerge from the magnanimity of the government of Manipur but each of them was extracted with agitations and with self inflicted pains,’ the statement said.

The issue of land is very dear to the tribals and Nagas. Land gives them their identity. Their culture, way of life and value system, evolves from our relationship with the land. Land is their present and land is our future, the statement said.

The Chief Minister is on record stating that land belongs to the state and not to any community, going against the very spirit and letter of Article 371 C of the Constitution which clearly gives cognizance to the land rights of the tribals in Manipur state. He has also gone on to state that there are no Nagas in the Manipur, negating, their identity that has evolved through history, land and political consciousness, it said.

At the fag end of his present tenure with barely few months left, Ibobi chose to desecrate the MOUs and assurance, knowing fully that extreme protest will follow, social divides will aggravate and people will suffer, the release said.

‘What noble purpose inspired this man and his government to create not only two districts which have been vehemently opposed but seven districts on a midnight drawing lines that would divide peoples that would alienate people from their ancestral domain and disturb peaceful co-existence of communities.

‘We also vividly remember that towards the end of 2011, Ibobi had enacted the same stunt with regard to declaration of Sardar Hills district before facing the 2012 state assembly election and he came back for another 5 years to ‘create havoc’ in the lives of the people of the state,’ the release said.

It further said the tragedy is that the people of Manipur, especially the intellectuals have not questioned him. He has been accepted as the champion of a community, which has been subtly engineered to differentiate the others from their interest. He is truly the Chief Minister of his own and not of the entire people of the state.

Playing blockade politics ahead of polls Scheduled talk with UNC

The Sangai Express editorial, 23 Jan 2017

Centre chiding the State Government for failing to open National Highway-2, the route that connects the State to Dimapur and further, despite deputing a large number of security personnel. State Government telling for one and all to hear that enough pressure has not been mounted by the Centre on the United Naga Council via the NSCN (IM) to get the ongoing economic blockade lifted. On the surface both sides have their own merits. And it is at this point of time that the stand of the Transporters’ and Drivers’ Council (TDC) becomes relevant and extremely important. Would do well for all to listen to what the drivers have had to say. Not surprisingly their stand is a big no to taking NH-2 and herein lies a story, a story worth looking at with all the seriousness it deserves. Let it be very clear to Delhi that escorting heavily loaded trucks and fuel laden vehicles through this route is fraught with danger and the unseen and unpredictable. Also remember that NH-2 passes through the stronghold of the United Naga Council and any trucks trying to pass through this highway with security escorts will definitely come under heavy attack. If the goods laden trucks travelling with heavy security escorts along this route come under heavy attack, be sure that the security personnel will also retaliate and the outcome can only be imagined. It is this which the TDC wants to avoid and not risk their drivers passing through this extremely hazardous National Highway.

If the creation of the seven new districts, which has led to the current blockade, is seen as a political gamble played by the Congress Government  ahead of the Assembly election, then the stand of the Centre in urging the State Government to get NH-2 opened with the use of security personnel may also be seen as another political move ahead of the Assembly election. Either way it stinks. Moreover remember the people who will be out on the National Highway to enforce the blockade will be ordinary village folks, directed by the UNC and other ‘powerful organisations’ to do their bidding. The risk factor is high, very high and this is where the stand of the TDC becomes important.  Other than this, there is nothing much to suggest that the Centre has done anything to use its office and contact the UNC to get the blockade lifted. Caught in the middle of the politicking are the common people. It is against this background that the State Government, the UNC and the Centre will head towards the tripartite talk anytime in the future at New Delhi.  Gaidon Kamei and Shankhel Stephen have been jailed, but Kamei will lead the UNC delegates in the tripartite talk and with the UNC not showing any indication that the blockade may be lifted, the people will just have to wait and see how the scheduled talk proceeds.

The Hand Or The Lotus? - A Thought For The Electorate

By Seram Neken
Imphal Free Press

No political party in Manipur is now seen engaging itself in election campaign, in the real sense of the term. In fact, the political parties and their heavyweights are putting their valued pre-poll time and energy, not in wooing voters but in calculating winnable candidates for the upcoming general elections. Campaign to educate and motivate the public on a variety of issues is quite absent in Manipur.  Political leaders of the three polarized camps – Congress, BJP and the third front, have put their heads together in separate camps for strategic political maneuvering that may encourage horse-trading with the record highest bids. ‘Old wine in new bottle’ will definitely be the next government of Manipur, whether it be under the Hand or the Lotus symbols. The Manipur government may be of the BJP or the Congress, but those in it will be the same old personalities.

As a major political party, the Indian National Congress (or the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee) appears to be a bit relaxed after the sudden move of district formation which has unexpectedly turned out to be a boon for the ruling Okram Ibobi led Congress party. The Congress party, which was supposed to be ailing with the high-fever of anti-incumbency for its much-talked about mis-governance, bribery, high degree of nepotism, and inherent VVIPism, appears to have startlingly earned a purchased popularity to the extent that even the hill people have begun to shout ‘Long live Ibobi’ in some places like Kangpokpi, Pherzol, Tengnoupal, Noneh and Kamjong districts. It is for sure that no incumbency or otherwise factor of the INC will influence the electorate of the newly formed seven districts including Jiribam and Kakching. Maximum number of Congress candidates is likely to be voted from these new districts, as against the so called BJP-Wave or NaMo-wave sweeping across India.

As for the valley dwellers, the major election agendum will be on the prolonged economic blockade sponsored by the bĂȘte noire United Naga Council. The public perception being the inherent nexus between the UNC, NSCN(IM) and Government of India (or the BJP) arising out of the framework agreement signed between the Modi Government and the negotiating NSCN(IM) at the dawn of the current NDA dispensation at the centre, the commonmen in valley districts are likely to hate the BJP at any cost. The chronology of events from Ukhrul firing on Chief Minister’s visit, UNC’s prolonged economic blockade, involvement of armed NSCN(IM) cadres in the blockade, Tengnoupal attacks on state forces near the security posts, arms snatching from state forces in Noneh and further violence in the hills have amplified the public notoriety towards the UNC, which may adversely affect the prospect of BJP candidates. The former BJP legislature party chief Kh Joykishan deserting party to join the Congress was also a factor for diminishing BJP’s strength in Manipur.

On the other hand, the BJP being the ruling party at the centre with its charismatic NaMo personality, has embraced numerous prospective candidates in its fold without pondering over the likely consequences on its organization. Subsequently, the state BJP now seems to be in a difficult situation to decide the candidates for the upcoming polls in a number of assembly constituencies. Besides the controversy for ticket allotment, the BJP in Manipur also appears to be down with public detestation on the demonetization issue. However, there is no reason for BJP’s downfall in Manipur, if the state BJP leaders set the right agenda before the voters.

At this critical juncture, the BJP leaders need to devise a different campaign strategy to motivate the voters with its development initiatives taken up by the Narendra Modi government at the centre. People should be convinced that economic growth in the state will be more viable when the centre-state relations are cordial. The general public needs to be convinced of the likely financial crunch in the state that may arise out of state-centre dichotomy when the BJP does not rule Manipur. Only the agenda of economic growth coupled with a pledge for minimal corruption and nepotism can boost the BJP’s prospect in Manipur in the ensuing general elections. It needs to make a pledge for rooting out corruption, bribery and VIPism which rated the fifteen years of Congress regime.

Of course there is public apprehension at certain quarters that Manipur’s integrity may be affected when BJP comes to power in Manipur. However, it is also well established that such issues as Naga Integretation, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Inner Line Permit System and the like have flourished for long under various regimes. No political party or no politician have sincerely attempted to solve even a fraction of the problem, and no party whether it is Congress or the BJP or any other, will do in future. Therefore, it is nonsense to presume that a particular political party will ever break Manipur.

Everybody knows that the issues of Manipur’s integrity should in no way hinder the BJP’s prospect of winning seat in Manipur, because no politician in Manipur whether belonging to BJP, Congress or any other will allow the compromise of state’s integrity. State government, be it either under BJP or the Congress, will obviously defend the integrity of Manipur. It is time to think of economic development, rather than of other stray issues, which all the time haunt the Manipur society. The people of Manipur have witnessed for long that issues like AFSPA, ILP, Naga Integretation, so on and so forth are quite unfit to be election agendas, because every political party and every politician has set aside such issues after elections. So, people are now fed up with such household words in election manifestoes and election promises of our politicians.

For the Congress, the election agenda is state’s Integrity and for the BJP, it must be economic growth with clean governance. At this hour the voters must also ask themselves two questions: Which political party - the BJP or the Congress, will be able to effect economic prosperity for its poor millions by establishing sustainable growth? Which political party or political leaders is/are ready for maximum sacrifice, minimal bribery and corruption to bring about clean governance?

Chapter 33

Voting in a season of discontent

By Pradip Phanjoubam  22 Jan 2017
Imphal Free Press/ The Hindu

The dates for the election to the Manipur Legislative Assembly have been announced. Polling will be in two phases, on March 4 and March 8. Results will be declared on March 11. A fortnight ago, there was speculation that the election may be preceded by a spell of President’s Rule in the wake of theindefinite economic blockade by the United Naga Council (UNC), a civil organisation in Manipur which claims to be the apex body of all Naga tribes in the State, but these have since been put to rest.

Blockade numbs Manipur

The blockade is now two and a half months oldandManipur continues to reel under the effect of shortages of many essential commodities, petrol and cooking gas in particular. Petrol stations are shut, but whenever there is some indication that some of them have been replenished for rationed distribution, miles-long queues of vehicles form outside them, sometimes overnight. The market understandably is sluggish and prices of commodities have gone up. Daily wage earners are the hardest hit. Demonetisation has made their trauma even worse. Thankfully, Imphal valley is a fertile, rice-growing region, ensuring that the people have not gone hungry. Had it been otherwise, there would have been mayhem on the streets by now.

Election pundits have been busy interpreting how this sorry state of affairs would play out in the March election. The foremost questions are: Would the hardships caused by the blockade turn the people against the ruling Congress? Would the BharatiyaJanata Party’s challenge become any more formidable because of it?

Significance of Assembly composition

The Manipur Assembly has 60 seats. Of these, 40 represent the valley inhabited predominantly by non-tribal Hindu Meiteis; 39 of these are for the general category and one is reserved for Scheduled Castes. The BJP had hoped it would be able to reap a harvest here, partly because of the community’s religious affiliation. Twenty seats represent the hills and 19 of these are reserved for Scheduled Tribes, after the Kangpokpi constituency in the erstwhile SADAR (Selected Area Development and Administrative Region) hills came to be de-reserved to accommodate its sizeable population of Nepalis. Of the 20 hill seats, Nagas normally hold sway in 11 to 12. The rest are generally won by Kukis and aligned tribes.

Given that the BJP government at the Centre is holding peace talks with the Naga militant group, the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), the party’s State unit was hoping that it would be able to win a majority of the Naga seats as well with the blessings of the militant group. Its main rival here is the Naga People’s Front, which too would be vying for the NSCN(IM)’s support. The Congress, which once had a lion’s share of the Naga seats, has, in the past few months, been marginalised as the NSCN(IM) and Naga organisations such as the UNC are opposed to it. Many Naga Congress MLAs and former ministers thought it prudent to resign from the party ahead of the election wishing to retain their seats. In Nagaland, the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the BJP are allies.

Electoral master stroke?

However, the UNC’s blockade — which began on November 1 in anticipation of the Manipur government giving in to the long-standing demand for upgrading the SADAR and Jiribamsubdivisions to full-fledged districts — has upset these equations radically. This became even more so after the government, at a cabinet sitting at midnight on December 8 to defy the UNC’s coercive protest, created not just the two districts the UNC was opposed to, but seven by splitting seven of the State’s nine districts.

The UNC considers four of the seven split districts to be a part of the ancestral Naga homeland and was quick to accuse the Manipur government of splitting this homeland, although, as the government contends, how districts can split people is incomprehensible. This is particularly so because the Assembly and parliamentary constituencies have remained untouched.

The worry of the BJP’s State unit amid the current ethnic polarisation is how proximity to the NSCN(IM), an organisation avowed to the dismemberment of Manipur to form a sovereign Greater Nagaland, and the UNC (which many consider to be a surrogate of the former) may alienate its support base in the valley where 40 seats are at stake. The Congress Chief Minister, OkramIbobi Singh’s move in this sense may be an electoral master stroke, not for the splintering or otherwise of any homeland, but for leaving rival BJP on the horns of a dilemma.

This dilemma is visible in the State unit’s muted response to the blockade question, probably not wanting to offend its Central leadership now holding talks with the NSCN(IM). Under the circumstances, if nothing happens to change the nature of this polarisation, there can be no doubt that the Congress’s position is strong in the valley, and the Chief Minister and his team may have found a way to overcome the anti-incumbency burden of having been in power for 15 years continuously.

Other than the valley seats, the Congress will also command sympathy in many Kuki constituencies. It may still win two or three Naga constituencies which had always been its strongholds if voters are not allowed to be totally coerced by the militants. In the party’s favour too is the fact that the State unit of the BJP does not have any charismatic leader who can jolt the confidence of the Congress even at this late stage.

Fluctuating loyalties

But things can change in the run-up to the March election. This happened in the Assam election of April 2016, and even more dramatically in Arunachal Pradesh later the same year, where the BJP installed its governments in both States. In Assam it wrested power from the Congress but only after wooing many Congress leaders to its camp before the election. In Arunachal Pradesh, it did this by engineering the defection of almost the entire lot of MLAs from the ruling Congress after the election. In Manipur too, such a scenario is not impossible to think of. Here too, the BJP is in a position to take advantage of the psychology of weak and dependent Northeast States of feeling safer by being on the side of the party in power at the Centre. There is always the feeling here, among political leaders as well as electorate, that the clearance of projects and Central assistance in lean times will always be smoother if the party that rules the Centre also rules the State.

There is one more factor that has determined party loyalty. The ceiling on ministry size for small Northeast States fixed by the anti-defection law is 12. This includes the chief minister. Those in the ruling Congress, and indeed the contender BJP, who are unsure of making this elite 12 will begin looking for greener pastures. This will also be an opportunity for smaller parties such as the Trinamool Congress to enlist potential winners. IromSharmila’s brand new party, the People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), has shown no interest in this kind of politics, but its idealism is still too nascent to generate the kind of wave that wins elections.

Public meeting on blockades and election

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 19

Hericoun and League of Indigenous Upliftment will conduct a public meeting on the theme “People and elections in the present situation” at G.M Hall on January 24 at around 11 am with the view of the prevailing situation in the state. The state has been facing great hurdles since November 1 due to blockades at arterial routes. Escalating cost of foods and fuels coupled with demonetisation had exacerbated the problems even as an election is at the doorstep.

But instead of solving the prevailing problem, the state and central government are playing a blame game, said Longjam Ratankumar, president Hericoun at their office. He further added they need to address the issue with great attention at the earliest and also respect the initiatives taken up by Goodwill Mission for Peaceful Co-existence to bring the peace in the state.

Ibobi : Govt will not buckle under threats from UGs

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL| Jan 21

Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh’s appeal to militant groups operating in the state to come to negotiating table marked the Statehood Day celebration today. He said the government will not buckle under diktats of militant outfits. Speaking to the 45th Statehood Day celebration today the Chief Minister reiterated his appeal to underground organisations to come forward for peace talks so as to resolve outstanding issues amicably.

BJP defers candidate list

Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL | Jan 21

The state BJP has delayed official release of party’s first list of candidates for the ensuing assembly polls until tomorrow, Sunday, but it did not give a reason. It has been unofficially confirmed that 31 candidates for the state where election will be held in two phases on March 4 and 8 have been finalized two days back.

The finalized candidates include 29 from the valley districts and two from the hill districts, party sources informed. Dissent among party ticket seekers could be the main reason for delaying the official announcement of candidate names, sources said. The BJP Manipur Pradesh was supposed to officially release the list by Saturday.

Congress will be ousted from Manipur: BJP

The Sangai Express / IANS

Tura, January 21 2017: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday exuded confidence that it will oust the ruling Congress government in the upcoming assembly elections in Manipur.

"A month from now, Manipuris will get a great opportunity to get rid of the corrupt and regressive Congress government and Okram Ibobi Singh," BJP national general secretary in-charge of northeast and Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav, said.

According to Madhav, the Congress government does not bother about its own people. The BJP made it clear that the party will contest all 60 seats on its own.

"The BJP is not having an alliance with the Naga People's Front and National People's Party (NPP), which are part of the NDA government in Manipur." The NPF and NPP have fielded candidates in some of the constituencies.

Madhav made the remarks while addressing BJP workers after the inauguration of the party's regional office in Meghalaya's Garo Hills region. He was accompanied by BJP national spokesperson and party in-charge in Meghalaya, Nalin Kohli, and BJP Meghalaya president Shibun Lyngdoh besides others.

PRJA open session

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 20

After the first interaction with the youths last Friday, Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) conducted a second open session with the youths today at Oorei Teahouse at Sagolband, Imphal. During the interaction PRJA convener Erendro Leichombam discussed on how participation of youth in politics can build peace and eradicate corruption from the state.

Erendro said that it is high time for the youth of the state to come forward and raise the voice of the youth to change the present contaminated system to a brand new clean system of the state. If we wish to change Manipur we must be a part and act against the dirty politics in the state, Erendro said.

Surveillance to check poll cash movement

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL| Jan 20

The Income Tax Department through its investigation wing has deployed surveillance and other enforcement teams in all the 16 districts of the state to curve use of black money during the state assembly election. C Deepak Singh, IRS, Additional Director of Income Tax (Investigation), NER, Guwahati and Nodal Officer of Income Tax department for Manipur assembly elections told a press conference at Classic Grande, Chingmeirong, Imphal East that the IT department has set up and operationalised Airport Intelligence Unit (AIU) in Imphal airport, Guwahati, Silchar, Agartala and Aizawl in North East Region. The airports of Calcutta and Delhi which are directly connected to Imphal have already been under surveillance.

And as per the instruction of ECI, the IT dept is continuously gathering intelligence and keeping close surveillance over movement of cash or valuables or other items suspected to be used for bribing electors during the elections, he added. The nodal officer has appealed general public, voters, various civil society organizations to assist the IT department to effectively monitor use of black money, to effectively control illegal expenditure during the elections.

For the benefit of public, he said the department has opened 24/7 control room and complaint monitoring cell at Imphal.

JD (U) ticket

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 20

The Janata Dal (United), Manipur State Unit has informed all the intending candidates who are aspiring for the party ticket can collect the application from its office at Hafiz Hatta, opposite Oil Pump from January 23 to February 7, 2017, said a release. It further said the form can be collected during office timing from 10 am to 4 pm.

Inadvertently strengthening Cong : Election via the blockade

The Sangai Express Editorial 20 January 20 2017

The United Naga Council (UNC) has already made its point.  And it is time they act on the fact that the longer they continue with the economic blockade, the better the prospects of Chief Minister O Ibobi and his party the Congress to come back to power.  Or maybe the ongoing economic blockade has already made the upcoming Assembly election a sure shot poll for the Congress and it is this which the UNC should realise.  Not the first time that the Congress and Chief Minister O Ibobi have been able to make political capital out of the stubborn stand adopted by some hill based organisations. Remember 2012 too.

Just two years before the Assembly election was held, the State Government under Chief Minister O Ibobi barred the entry of Thuingaleng Muivah into Manipur and while the Congress stood boycotted in the Naga dominated districts following the Naga People’s Convention in Senapati, it did remarkably well in other parts of the State to sweep the polls like never before.  Despite the growing popularity of the BJP and the presence of an alternative to the Congress, the party which has been in power for the last 15 years may just return for the fourth term, given the fact that the election will be a highly polarised one.

So if the Congress is on slippery ground in the Naga dominated districts, it will surely find a healthy response in Kangpokpi districts which has three Assembly Constituencies. It was only in 2015 that Churachandpur district went up in flames after the three Bills were passed in the Assembly, but there is every likelihood that the creation of the seven new districts and the ongoing economic blockade will have a bigger impact on the election this time. More than obvious that the creation of the seven new districts caught the BJP on the backfoot and this could be another reason why the BJP led Central Government has left nothing to chance while pointing an accusing finger at the Chief Minister for not being able to open NH-2 or the Imphal-Dimapur highway.

There could be some truth in this, yet it also stands that trying to bulldoze through NH-2 using the security personnel at hand can lead to bloodshed and violence. No one would want this and this is a point which should not blow over the heads of the Centre. Remember the people coming out to enforce the blockade are ordinary village folks, who probably do not really know the politics of the blockade and the politics of creating the seven new districts. More than evident that the ongoing economic blockade has been viewed through the prism of the upcoming Assembly election and this is one reason why it took the State Government so long to issue an invitation to the UNC for a talk.

It is this point which should not blow over the heads of the UNC leadership. The irony is palpable. On the one hand the UNC is deadly against the Congress and the Chief Minister yet in prolonging the economic blockade they are only brightening the poll prospects of the Congress and another term in office for Okram Ibobi.

Ticket allotment issues likely to turn state BJP office into war field

Imphal Times

Imphal, January 20 2017: As opined by various political expert, BJP Manipur Pradesh office here in Imphal is likely to become a war field with aspirant candidates which had been denied party ticket now revolt. Officially, no announcement of candidate has been made at the time of filing this report, but report published on various newspapers of Imphal area base on their respective sources has made curious to many of the intending candidates.

"Since early morning today I have been receiving calls from various party men inquiring about the list", an important functionary of the BJP said while talking to this reporter.

He assured that the final list for the first phase has been prepared for 31 constituencies but it is not officially announced. Meanwhile large number of supporters of their respective candidates today thronged to the BJP Manipur Pradesh at Keishampat.

Sloagan shouting justice for their supporters were heard shouted.

"It is expected and for popular party these things are common, some will get and some will not be lucky enough", said the party functionary. He said as it is expected the BJP authority had already informed the DGP to provide adequate security forces to ensure that no unwanted element cause trouble at the party office.

Training and rehearsal programme on EVM and statutory items conducted

Imphal Times / DIPR

Imphal, January 20 2017: One day Rehearsal and Training programme on EVM and statutory items was conducted for the newly appointed presiding officers and polling officers of Tamenglong District for the upcoming 11th Manipur Assembly Election 2017 at Indoor Stadium in Tamenlong District Headquarter.

Speaking on the occasion, S.D.O.of Khoupum David talked about the role of presiding officer and polling officer. He also further explained about the complex cases that may crop up during polling day and during elections. Gonguilu Gangmei, SDO of Nungba elaborated the process of how to handle the EVM machine through audio visual medium in a very simple and systematic way.

She also further interacted with the newly appointed presiding officer and polling officer regarding handling of special situations such as challenged votes, tendered votes, proxy votes, natural calamities, riots, and booth capturing. The training and rehearsal programme was attended by Tamenglong DC Marachan Luikham, SDO Tamei, Kachamthai Gangmei, and District election officer D Meidinbui. Around 200 people participated in the training programme.

Talks and venue

The Imphal Free Press editorial, 20 Jan 2017

A few questions have come to the fore in the recent endeavour to engage United Naga Council (UNC) and the state government in a dialogue. First, what is there to talk about in the issue of lifting the economic blockade which has been in force since November 1 last. Second, why should the ‘venue’ of talks really matter? Third, why is the central government reluctant to use the ‘special leverage’ it has on the political bosses of UNC? We could go on raising several other questions. We had already given our piece of mind on the first question, in this same column.

There is nothing democratic or political about an economic blockade. There is simply no justification for imposing an economic blockade in a state. The Supreme Court was very clear on this. More than two and half months have gone by and still the economic blockade is in place defying logic and the law of the land. It is not only causing untold sufferings to the common people in both valley and hills but also threatening the social fabric and the shared history of economic interdependence. Yes, the imposition of economic blockade is different from earlier blockades with bullets flying around and deadly ambushes, and of course a steep rise in the number of vehicles burnt. Other than comparing notes on the impact of the economic blockade, there is really nothing to talk about.

The question of ‘venue’ of the talks is indeed interesting. Here also, several other questions crop up. Is there a ‘foreign’ entity or body among the main actors in the proposed tripartite talks? Is it a question of choosing a neutral venue or taking a definitive political stance for setting terms? New Delhi seems to have passed the buck to Imphal, based on its much stated position of ‘state subject’ and also with an eye on the ensuing state assembly elections. As the economic blockade is imposed in the national highways of the state, the talks should happen within the borders of the state, but in a neutral zone. Senapati is definitely out of question as the owners of the economic blockade UNC is headquartered there and also because UNC has consistently refused to accept the authority of Manipur government. Sometimes, it rather seems self contradictory on the part of a group who continually places its demands at the very doorsteps of a government which it chooses to ignore. And it runs from pillar to post in New Delhi to seek central intervention for its grievances in the state of Manipur.

Now again, the reluctance of the BJP government at New Delhi to use its ‘special leverage’ reeks of political opportunism in the backdrop of an ‘imagined’ political space in view of the ensuing Manipur assembly elections. Somehow, the ruling party at the Centre has failed to grasp the changing political winds in the state as a defiant Congress government took a tough stance against detractors and champions of disintegration. BJP seems to think that it can still bank on the plank of rooting out a corrupt state government in the ensuing elections. Yes, everyone is fed up of the uninterrupted fifteen years of corruption and nepotism under chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and had been longing for a change in the event of a viable alternative.

But, BJP has failed to capitalize on the corruption scams haunting the state in the light of a favourable government at the Centre or to prop up an attractive option before the Manipur public. The party seems to have missed the broader picture in Manipur where people zealously guard the edifice called Manipur and would thwart any attempt to disintegrate it. They are even willing to lay down their lives for the sake of territorial integrity. They hate and detest corruption, but they love Manipur more.

ASUK boycotts R-Day celebration

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 19

A proscribed Alliance for Socialist Unity, Kangleipak (ASUK) has boycotted the celebration of forthcoming 68th Indian Republic Day in Western South-East Asia (WESEA) region on January 26. However, emergency services, media and religious activities will be exempted. ASUK was formed by Kanglei Yawol Kunna Lup (KYKL) and Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) as constituent units.

In a statement, Alliance for Socialist Unity, Kangleipak publicity committee convenor S Mangal claimed that WESEA region was forcibly occupied by Indian colonial forces. Then, Indian constitutions have been implementing since January 26, 1950. It said, “India has been colonizing the WESEA by forcibly implementing the Indian Constitution since January 26, 1950. However, the people of WESEA who dreamt of creating a new democratic society based on Liberty, Equality and Fraternity has been opposing the celebration of the Indian Republic Day”.

 “India has been creating intense horizontal conflict among the different indigenous communities as a principal contradiction while suppressing the Indo-WESEA vertical conflict which is the principal contradiction” it contended.

The release further continued that, “The citizens of the Western South-East Asia  region have to understand the colonial structure of Indain government and urged the citizens of the region to fight together against the juggernaut of Indian Colonialism to save the indigenous identities of the community from extinction”.

 “The Mainland Indians could not consider Mongoliods as Indians and as a result frequent racial discriminations has been taking place in various Indian metropolitan cities and will continue”, it concluded.

Rajnath to help end eco blockade

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 19

The Union Home Minister Rajnath has assured all possible steps to help end the United Naga Council (UNC) sponsored economic blockade on the national highways of Manipur. Rajnath Singh gave the assurance to a visiting delegation of the Joint Forum for Peace, Manipur (JFP) led by United Committee Manipur (UCM) president Elangbam Johnson today at New Delhi. The 17-member delegation met the Union Home Minister today morning at 9.45 am for about 45 minutes at his office in North Block, according to sources.

The delegation included members of state civil society organizations including UCM, AMUCO, CSSK, All Manipur Muslim Organisations Coordinating Committee, Kabui Mothers Association, Kuki Inpi Manipur and All Tribal Students Association Manipur (ATSUM). Sources said, the Manipur delegation apprised the home minister on the impact of the UNC imposed economic blockade on the highways of the state while seeking central intervention to facilitate the lifting of the economic blockade.

Voter awareness at Imphal market

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 19

With the objective to render awareness among general market vendors and general public on how to operate EVM and VVPAT for casting their votes on the poll day for the ensuing assembly election 2017, District Election Officer, Imphal West today organised EVM and VVPAT familiarization campaign in and around the Khwairamband Bazar today.

Returning officers of Thangmeiband A/c and Sagolband A/c was the officer in charge of the said campaign. Deputy Commissioner of Imphal West District Robert Singh Kshetrimayum as District Election Officer, Imphal West who was present at the spot said that the EVM and VVPAT familiarization campaign is to promote free and fair election in the upcoming election.

BJP names first list of candidates

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 19 2017: The Central Election Committee of the BJP which met this evening at New Delhi to work out the candidate list for the coming Assembly polls has reportedly chosen 32 candidates in the first list, said a reliable source.

State unit president of the BJP, K Bhabananda, general secretary and MLA Th Bishwajit and convenor of the Election Management Committee Th Chaoba were present at the CEC meeting.

The official list of the candidates named will be issued tomorrow.

According to a reliable source, the names of only 29 candidates who have been named could be confirmed at the time of going to press late in the evening today.

The 29 are N Biren (Hein-gang AC), Y Erabot (Wang- khei AC), O Joy (Langthabal AC), Sh Premananda Sharma (Patsoi AC), Kikhonbou Newmai (Tamei AC), Shangba (Sugnu AC) Francis Ngajokpa (Tadubi AC), N Mangi (Kumbi AC), Dr Kh Loken (Sagolband AC), Dr U Deben (Wabagai AC), Dr Y Radheshyam (Hiyanglam AC), Th Chaoba (Nambol AC), RK Shivachandra (Keishamthong AC), Th Bishwajit (Thongju AC) and Seityabrata (Yaiskul AC) .

The other candidates are Yaima (Khurai AC), S Ranjan (Konthoujam AC), Robindro (Mayang Imphal), S Joy (Wangoi), Radha-kishore (Oinam AC), P Sarat (Moirang AC), Asni-kumar (Thanga AC), Anwar (Lilong AC), Rameshwar (Keirao AC), Bhim (Thoubal), Jadu-mani (Khangabok), Hemanta (Wangjing-Tentha AC), Haridas (Wangkhem AC), Dr Nimaichand (Andro AC) and Ibomcha (Lamlai AC) .

Manipur Elections 2017 Polls to be a test for EC due to blockade

The Sangai Express / DNA

New Delhi, January 19 2017: The latest decision of the United Naga Council (UNC) to intensify the agitation against creating seven new districts has thrown up a tough challenge for the Election Commission to carry out polls in the trouble-torn State of Manipur.

The EC sources said the conduct of polling will be uncertain in 30 of the 60 Constituencies if the situation does not improve soon. Polls are to be held in two phases in Manipur on March 4 and 8. The EC's main concern is the delivery of logistics EVMs, booth and election material and the poll staff to 30 of the 60 Constituencies that depend on NH-2 for supplies, and ensure their safety.

The NH-2 is known as the lifeline of the State and has seen the UNC protest for the last 75 days. Wary of the explosive situation, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday met Manipur Chief Minister, Ibobi Singh and asked the CM to ensure movement on NH-2 by implementing law and order that is a Constitutional duty of the State Government.

In turn, Ibobi Singh asked Rajnath to use the Centre's influence to placate UNC which is unnecessarily challenging State's prerogative. Earlier, the Centre had contemplated seriously to implement President's Rule but then decided against it after meeting the State representatives and UNC delegation. To carry out polls peacefully, the Manipur Government had asked for 40 more companies (4000 personnel) of the Central armed police forces (CAPFs) to add to the strength of 135 (13,500 personnel) existing companies.

The forces have already been sent to the State but now it may require more Central police forces to ease the situation which senior Home Ministry sources said the Centre will provide if the need arises.

District level training on MCMC

The Sangai Express

Thoubal, January 19 2017: A one-day district level training on Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) for media and political parties in connection with the ensuing 11th State Assembly election was held today at Thoubal DC Conference hall under the aegis of the Office of Chief Electoral Officer, Manipur, our correspondent reports.

The training was organized by the Office of the District Electoral Officer, Thoubal. Deputy Commissioner/District Electoral Officer Thoubal, M Joy Singh who chaired the today's meeting said the training primarily focus on the matter of paid news and political advertisements. Mayengbam Rajkumar, AC to DC, Thoubal, briefed on the certification of political advertisements and urged them to ensure clearance from the MCMC before publishing the same in order to safeguard the Model Code of Conduct.

Mayengba Rajkumar urged media persons not to publish paid news and also laid out the many steps and measures taken up by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to prevent such malpractices. He spoke of the need to obtain a certification from concerned MCMC before broadcasting any political related advertisement.

Any political content uploaded on blogs and self account on any social media websites will not be treated as political advertisement. Political advertisements issued on e-papers shall however require pre certification, he stated. Reporters, correspondents from various media firms and representatives of political parties attended the training.

Inadvertently strengthening Cong: Election via the blockade

The Sangai Express editorial
20 Jan 2017

The United Naga Council (UNC) has already made its point. And it is time they act on the fact that the longer they continue with the economic blockade, the better the prospects of Chief Minister O Ibobi and his party the Congress to come back to power. Or maybe the ongoing economic blockade has already made the upcoming Assembly election a sure shot poll for the Congress and it is this which the UNC should realise. Not the first time that the Congress and Chief Minister O Ibobi have been able to make political capital out of the stubborn stand adopted by some hill based organisations. Remember 2012 too. Just two years before the Assembly election was held, the State Government under Chief Minister O Ibobi barred the entry of Thuingaleng Muivah into Manipur and while the Congress stood boycotted in the Naga dominated districts following the Naga People’s Convention in Senapati, it did remarkably well in other parts of the State to sweep the polls like never before. Despite the growing popularity of the BJP and the presence of an alternative to the Congress, the party which has been in power for the last 15 years may just return for the fourth term, given the fact that the election will be a highly polarised one. So if the Congress is on slippery ground in the Naga dominated districts, it will surely find a healthy response in Kangpokpi districts which has three Assembly Constituencies. It was only in 2015 that Churachandpur district went up in flames after the three Bills were passed in the Assembly, but there is every likelihood that the creation of the seven new districts and the ongoing economic blockade will have a bigger impact on the election this time.

More than obvious that the creation of the seven new districts caught the BJP on the backfoot and this could be another reason why the BJP led Central Government has left nothing to chance while pointing an accusing finger at the Chief Minister for not being able to open NH-2 or the Imphal-Dimapur highway. There could be some truth in this, yet it also stands that trying to bulldoze through NH-2 using the security personnel at hand can lead to bloodshed and violence. No one would want this and this is a point which should not blow over the heads of the Centre. Remember the people coming out to enforce the blockade are ordinary village folks, who probably do not really know the politics of the blockade and the politics of creating the seven new districts. More than evident that the ongoing economic blockade has been viewed through the prism of the upcoming Assembly election and this is one reason why it took the State Government so long to issue an invitation to the UNC for a talk. It is this point which should not blow over the heads of the UNC leadership. The irony is palpable. On the one hand the UNC is deadly against the Congress and the Chief Minister yet in prolonging the economic blockade they are only brightening the poll prospects of the Congress and another term in office for Okram Ibobi.

Manipur yet to sway to the rhythm of the ballot
Economic blockade by the Nagas and currency ban are bigger worries here

by Iboyaima Laithangbam
The Hindu, 19 Jan 2016

Political parties and Independents in Manipur are yet to launch electioneering for the March 4 and 8 Assembly elections. A few started a half-hearted campaign, but stopped immediately afterwards when they met with a lukewarm response.

The reasons are obvious. People in Manipur, as in other parts of the country, have been hit hard by the demonetisation on November 8. Even today, there are long queues in front of banks and ATMs. And after a few incidents of break-in, there has been no cash disbursal in ATMs in remote areas where police and security forces cannot be rushed immediately. Meanwhile, there is still a shortage of small value currencies.

Galloping prices

A bigger problem is the indefinite economic blockade since November 1 imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC) that has brought the State to a grinding halt. UNC supporters have completely blocked NH 2, the lifeline of Manipur. Activists stop and rummage through even military trucks along this highway.

“Though the government has been bringing some essential items under armed escort, prices have sky-rocketed to ridiculous levels. Medicines, baby foods and many consumer items are not available in the market,” said social activist Laishram Nanao.

Women vendors resent politicians talking about their election in these difficult times. “We are unable to sell anything simply because Rs. 100 or lesser value currencies are not available. The elected members are not trying to end the blockade, but are busy playing the blame game,” said Asem Bala, who sells vegetables in the main Imphal city.

Nimaichand Luwang, a BJP leader who is seeking ticket for the Andro constituency, told The Hindu that launching large-scale electioneering at this stage would not only be insensitive, but was also tantamount to mocking the people.

“We are concentrating on street corner and in-camera meetings. We are handicapped because we cannot advertise even in the media without clearance from the EC,” he said.

The overwhelming view is that voters will not listen to the syrupy promises of candidates when virtually nothing is available in the market and petrol pumps are dry most of the days.

Lists are not out yet

While the politicians dread going to the angry voters, the parties themselves are not releasing their official lists fearing resignations by those who miss the bus. “The national ticket committee may decide the official candidates as there are many ticket-seekers,” said State Congress president T.N. Haokip. HRD Minister Prakash Jadvadekar said the BJP had received a list of recommended candidates. “The national committee will take some time to finalise the names.”

On an average, there are five contenders for a BJP ticket in each of the 60 constituencies. The situation is not very different in the Congress either.

EC seizes Rs. 64 cr from poll-bound States
Maximum cash, liquor seizures in U.P.; drugs in Punjab

The Hindu/PTI

Election Commission- appointed surveillance and expenditure monitoring teams have recovered over Rs. 64 crore in cash, including Rs 56.04 crore from Uttar Pradesh alone, and liquor and drugs worth over Rs 8 crore from the five poll-bound states.

As per official data, Punjab has witnessed the maximum seizure of drugs worth Rs 1.78 crore (heroine and poppy husk) followed by contraband in Goa valued at Rs 16.72 lakh while such seizures in Manipur amounted to Rs 7 lakh.

Assembly elections of 2017: An overview

By Thoudam Imomacha Singh
Imphal Free Press

As the Election Commission of India (ECI) has proclaimed the commencement of Assembly Elections in Manipur and other four State of Goa, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, the stage is set for electioneering in these parts of the country.  Particularly for the state of Manipur, the March Assembly elections would be a crucial one, in view of the unconstitutional and unlawful ploy of UNC’s inconclusive “Economic Blockade”.  At the same time very amazingly, the Congress Party which has been at the helm of affairs in the governance of the State for almost one and half decades failed to have done anything durable pertaining to the livelihood of the state citizenry.  Every minister or all the incumbent law-makers of the Congress dispensation are very proud owing to the absence of a viable opposition in the Legislature, who could initiate a brainstorming debate on issues of public interest like rampant corruption in the state.  The Congress remains safe as it commands a massive majority in the “House”.  This frame of mind of the Congress Party amounts to “murder of democracy”.

If we look at the fallout of the inconclusive “Economic Blockade” the price of essential commodities comprising foodstuff, fuel, medicine and other various raw materials has gone sky-high.  Nevertheless, the state authority remains a dolt, whereas the plight of the common man is up against the wall.  At this high and dry moment, the so called politicians and high-ups have gone into hibernation.  The leaders of public opinion and the intelligentsia in the state are now astounded due to the invisibility of governance.

Let us, now, recollect a little of the political genealogy of the state since the time Manipur became a full fledged state of the Union of India in the year 1972.  A minority political veteran of mass popularity and pragmatism Mohammad Alimuddin was destined to lead the Manipur Peoples Party (MPP) Government, the first of its kind after Manipur’s attainment of statehood.  At that time the M.P.P. was a political clique of unquestioned credibility.  Some of the well-known political names of Manipur were hobnobbing with the said local political party.  They resorted to the MPP as their springboard for political propelling and also earn mass popularity.  At the end, most of them discarded the party that was their political mentor.  To day the MPP remains a “House of Cards”.  The current situation of turmoil in Manipur reminds the state citizenry to resurrect and rejuvenate a political party like the MPP.  The paradigm of “sons of the soil” may not be irrelevant to the context of the current political development in Manipur.

In a southern state like Tamilnadu most of the Political stalwarts now belong to Dravidian political parties like the DMK or the AIADMK.  The late J. Jayalalitha was a charismatic political personage who ruled the state off and on.  Her political contender was the grand old man of DMK K. Karunanidhi.  He is in frail health on account of his ripe age.  Still then he remains the political boss of the DMK.  These political leaders dare to tell the rulers at the centre that they cannot middle with Tamilnadu affairs. Politicians in Manipur need to imbibe there political lifestyle.  Every time, the political masters in Delhi seldom find the Manipur politicians honourable.  This is the crux of the matter of Manipur politics and politicians.

Now, talking about the BJP led NDA Government at the centre, the Manipur Electorate need to do a political retrospection.  During the earlier BJP led NDA Government in Delhi 18 Manipuris were martyred on 18, June, 2001, at the prime of their life on the issue of extension of cease-fire existing in between the centre and the NSCN (IM).  At that time also there was Congress rule in Manipur as it is today.  The BJP or the BJP led NDA Government at the Centre still owes a formal and unqualified apology in the Parliament.  Because, the program was perpetrated on the Manipuris as a result the half-hearted conduct of the then Central Government.  A number of turn-coat politicians have recently joined the state BJP bandwagon.  There is nothing much to say about their conduct but it is a vivid example of their self-seeking frame of mind.  Referring to the prevalent inconclusive “Economic Blockade”, the BJP as well as their Government at the Centre conveniently chooses to play the politics of mud-slinging at the cost of untold suffering borne by the common man.

The prolonged Naga Talks between the Centre and the NSCN (IM) still remains inconclusive.  However, the Modi Government has taken the initiative to construct the so called “Framework Agreement”, which is very much kept clandestine and yet to see the light of the day.  The centre now seems to be a champion of the Naga cause.  Then what about other Northeasterners in the region?  Let the outcome of the Assembly Elections of March 2017 in Manipur become the harbinger of the amalgamation of the region for a political tranquility.

Election punditry

Imphal Free Press Editorial, 18 Jan 2017

Just two and a half months away from the March elections to the Manipur Legislative Assembly, pundits are busy interpreting how the sorry state of affairs prevailing in Manipur at the moment following the UNC indefinite blockade along Manipur’s two lifelines from November 1 would play out at the elections. More than in established newspapers, which it must be said are much more cautious, it is social media sites which are replete with such punditries of self-professed seers and visionaries. As expected on any unregulated forum, these discussions and prophesies are now tending to turn into a pandemonium, full of sound and fury but often signifying nothing much. They often also tend to be accusative, hate filled and vitriolic. But even amidst this din, certain core questions have emerged. Would the blockade hardships and ethnic polarisation the blockade has brought, turn the people against the ruling Congress? Would the BJP’s challenge become any more formidable because of it? How would the creation of new districts impact the electoral fortunes of the parties in contention?

These questions are important and therefore a look at the structure of political establishment in the state may be helpful in attempting to answer them. We all know the Manipur Assembly has 60 seats. Of these 40 are located in the valley inhabited by non-tribal predominantly Hindu Meiteis, and 39 of these are general category and one reserved for scheduled castes. The BJP probably had hoped they would be able to reap a harvest here, partly because of the community’s religious affiliation. We also know twenty seats are in the hills and 19 of these are reserved for scheduled tribes, after the Kangpokpi constituency in the erstwhile SADAR hills came to be de-reserved to accommodate its sizeable population of Nepalis. Of the 20 hill seats, Nagas normally hold sway in 11 to 12. The rest are generally won by Kukis and aligned tribes. Again, considering the BJP government at the Centre is holding peace talks with the NSCN(IM), the state BJP was hoping they would be able to win a majority of the Naga seats as well with the blessings of the militant group. Its main rival here is the Naga People’s Front, which too would be vying for the NSCN(IM)’s support. The Congress which once had a lion’s share of the Naga seats has in the past few months been marginalised badly as the NSCN(IM) and Naga organisations like the UNC are opposed to it, and many Naga Congress MLAs and former ministers thought it prudent to resign from the party ahead of the elections, to salvage any chance of retaining their seats.

The UNC’s blockade which began on November 1, in anticipation of the Manipur government giving in to the long standing demand for upgrading SADAR and Jiribam subdivisions to full-fledged districts, however has upset these equations radically. This became even more so after the government decided during a midnight cabinet sitting on December 8, to defy the UNC’s coercive protest and created not just the two districts the UNC were opposed to, but seven by splitting seven of the state’s nine districts. The UNC considers four of the seven split districts to be part of the ancestral Naga homeland and were quick to accuse the Manipur government of splitting this homeland, although as the government contends, as to how districts can split people is incomprehensible. This is particularly so because Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies have remained untouched. Nonetheless, the state BJP’s worry now is, amidst the current ethnic polarisation, proximity to the NSCN(IM), an organisation avowed to dismemberment Manipur to form a sovereign Greater Nagaland, and the UNC which many consider to be a surrogate of the former, may alienate its support base in the valley where 40 seats are at stake. The Congress chief minister, Okram Ibobi’s move in this sense may be an electoral masterstroke, not for splintering or otherwise of any homeland, but for leaving its rival BJP caught in an unenviable dilemma. This dilemma is visible in the state’s BJP’s muted response to the blockade question, probably not wanting to offend its Central leadership now holding talks with the NSCN(IM). Under the circumstance, if nothing changes the nature of this polarisation, there can be no doubt the Congress’ position is strong in the valley, and Ibobi and his team may have found a way to overcome the anti-incumbency burden of having been 15 continuous years in power.

Things can however change overnight. The examples of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh should not be forgotten. In Assam the BJP defeated the ruling Congress, but only after managing to woo Congress leaders to its camp before the elections. In Arunachal Pradesh, it was by engineering defection after the election. There is no guarantee the Congress in Manipur is not vulnerable similarly. The BJP which currently seems starved of any charismatic leader capable of shaking up the confidence of the ruling Congress, can still do an Assam in the one and half months before the elections or an Arunachal Pradesh later.

MNDF extends ticket schedule

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 18

The Manipur National Democratic Front (MNDF) has informed that the time schedule for issuing of party tickets for all intending candidates has been extended till January 30, said a release. It further said any candidate interested to apply can contact during office hours between 10 am to 4 pm at MNDF office, Babupara, VIP Colony, Imphal West.

NCP invites candidates

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 18

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Manipur state has informed the intending NCP candidates ensuing 11th Manipur State Assembly Election 2017 that the prescribe form for candidature will be available at the office of NCP, Singjamei Super Market, Radheshyam Shopping Complex during office hours, said a release. It further said the last date for form submission of duly filled in forms will be January 30, 2017 up to 4 pm.

Training on EEM

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 18

The second round of training on Election Expenditure Monitoring for six assembly constituencies of Kangpokpi and Senapati districts was held today at the conference hall of DC, Kangpokpi. The training was chaired by deputy commissioner of Senapati, Arthur C while deputy director (Tourism) and OSD on SVEEP, Election department, Julie Daryal Anal was the resource persons.

All officers and staff constituted under Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC), Expenditure Monitoring Team including assistant expenditure observer, flying squad, static surveillance team, video surveillance team, video viewing team, accounting team, complaint monitoring control room and call centre, expenditure monitoring cell, medical team, Control Room and Media Centre of 46-Saikul (ST), 47-Karong (ST), 48-Mao (ST), 49-Tadubi, 50-Kangpokpi (Gen) and 51-Saitu (ST) attended the programme.

BJP first list expected today

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 18

Speculations are rife on possible nominees of BJP in Imphal as the first list is expected to be announced late Thursday evening from New Delhi, according to highly placed sources.

A high level meeting of BJP central leadership is slated to meet tomorrow evening at 5 pm to deliberate on the possible nominees of the party in the ensuing state assembly elections. Poll dates for Manipur have been fixed on March 4 and 8.

Highly placed sources said, BJP state unit president K Bhavananda Singh and state election management committee convenor Thounaojam Chaoba has been invited to Delhi tomorrow to attend the meeting of the Central Parliamentary Board / Central Election Committee sitting to be held at the central BJP office.

Ibobi calls on Rajnath Singh, Centre expresses concern over blockade

The Sangai Express

New Delhi, January 18 2017: On the request of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief Minister of Manipur Okram Ibobi Singh met him here today. During the meeting the Home Minister expressed grave concern over the continued blockade of National Highway-2 causing severe difficulties to the people of Manipur specially with regard to availability of essential commodities.

Rajnath Singh further stated that the ongoing blockade is likely to adversely affect democratic process in the forthcoming elections by hampering movement of people, including election officials. The Ministry of Home Affairs has been making repeated efforts to find a way to have the NH-2 opened, he said.

Blockade may affect poll process in Manipur

The Sangai Express / PTI

New Delhi, January 18 2017: The election process in at least 30 Assembly Constituencies in Manipur is likely to be affected as a key National Highway in the State continues to remain blocked for 80 days due to agitation by a Naga group. The Central Government seems to be in a fix over its limited options in removing the blockade on NH-2 in Manipur as it is not keen to impose President's Rule and the law and order is completely under the domain of the State Government.

"The highway touches directly or indirectly at least 30 Assembly Constituencies.

There will be problems in campaigning, transporting polling officials, EVMs and arranging other logistics," a senior Home Ministry official said.

Election to the 60-member Manipur Assembly will be held in two phases on March 4 and 8. Even though conducting polls is the responsibility of the Election Commission, Central Government is concerned over the crisis of essential commodities and their skyrocketing prices. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and senior officials discussed the Manipur situation at a meeting on Sunday but could not find out any solution to remove the blockade.

Rohatgi was of the opinion that even though protection of National Highways is Central Government's prerogative, it cannot remove anyone if he or she is staging protest on it as law and order is a "State subject" .

"We are in a dilemma as to what to do to remove the blockade as President's Rule is not a favourable option," the official said.

The Home Ministry has sent around 17,500 paramilitary personnel, 4,000 of them in last 10 days, to Manipur to help the State Government in removing the blockade.

While NH-37 was partially reopened, there is no traffic movement on NH-2.In a stern message, the Centre had told the Manipur Government last month that it cannot escape responsibility for the "humanitarian crisis" arising out of the blockade and must work to end it, while making it clear that nobody will be allowed to take political advantage of the situation.

Home Minister Singh had written twice to Chief Minister Ibobi Singh asking him to ensure reopening of the highway but it did not yield any result. Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju too had visited the Congress-ruled Manipur as a Central emissary. Rijiju had said it was completely unacceptable to have such blockades in which thousands of people were suffering and both the Central and Manipur Governments will work together to end it.

Poll painting

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 17

A painting competition will be jointly organised by Editor Guild Manipur, NCO- Gene, Contemporary Artist and Manipur and Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Manipur on January 22 at Kangla Park, Imphal under the theme “Free Fair and Peaceful Election and Ethical Voting”, said a release singed by the secretary of All Manipur Recognised Private Schools’ Welfare Association (AMRPSWA) L Joy. It further said the association has urged its member schools to send students for the competition from their respective schools.

Trinamool ticket

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL| Jan 17

The Manipur Pradesh Trinamool Congress Committee has issued notification inviting intending candidates who are willing to contest the 11th state assembly election 2017 on Trinamool Congress Party ticket. The notification said, application forms will be available at the party office at Haokip Veng, Mahaballi Road, Sanjenthong, Imphal East from Jan 18 to Jan 31 from 10 am to 4 pm.  The last date for submission of the application is February 5, it said.

Local parties line up in Manipur

The Sangai Express / Economic Times

Guwahati, January 17 2017: Regional parties are queuing up to contest the polls in Manipur. Manipur People's Party (MPP), the oldest party in the North East, will will field candidates at 39 constituencies in the 60-member House.

MPP has twice ruled the state. However, in 2012 MPP was not able to win even a single seat. MPP is confident of a good show in this election. Meghalaya's Opposition party National Peoples Party (NPP) will make its electoral debut and will contest in around 25 to 30 seats.

NPP was founded by former Speaker, Late PA Sangma. NPP National executive member and Meghalaya MLA James Sangma said NPP has already constituted a State election management committee.

Union HM invites CM, State Govt opens door to UNC Chief Minister set to leave for Delhi today

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 17 2017: While the State Government has invited the United Naga Council (UNC) to hold a tripartite meeting over the issue of the indefinite blockade, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has invited Chief Minister O Ibobi to Delhi to confer over the same issue. Following the Union Home Ministry's suggestion to hold a meeting between the Government of Manipur and the UNC, the Chief Secretary sent an invitation to the UNC today to hold a tripartite meeting at Imphal.

The State Government has also informed the UNC that the tripartite meeting involving the Government of India would be held on January 23, sources informed. Notably, the UNC imposed the indefinite economic blockade since November 1 last year in protest against the attempt to create and creation of Sadar Hills and Jiribam districts.

Meanwhile, as invited by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief Minister O Ibobi would be leaving for Delhi tomorrow to confer over the issue of economic blockade. The Union Home Minister invited the Chief Minister after a high level meeting was held with many Central Ministers and the Chief of Army Staff on the State's prevailing situation. Governor Dr Najma Heptulla called Chief Secretary O Nabakishore to the Raj Bhavan today and enquired about the UNC's blockade and the State's preparations for the forthcoming Assembly election.

The Chief Secretary apprised the Governor of the scarcity of essential commodities on account of the UNC's indefinite economic blockade. Notably, the Union Home Ministry has already sought a report from the State Government about the militant attack on a convoy of trucks at Lukhambi, Noney district a few days back which left one civilian dead and three others injured.

CHQ told to take specific steps

IMPHAL | Jan 17

High Court of Manipur has directed government authorities to convene immediately a meeting of combined headquarters (CHQ), which is chaired by the chief minister O Ibobi Singh to take decisions to get the blockade lifted. A full bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Rakesh Ranjan Prasad, Justice N Kotiswar and Justice Kh Nobin ordered yesterday that the court was not satisfied with the actions taken by the state government to deal with the blockade.

 “...We direct the authorities to convene a meeting of CHQ immediately, chaired by the honourable chief minister to take decisions keeping in view the problems surfaced during the period, so that troubled areas along the national highway-2 be identified,” the order said.

Not the time to pass the buck: Busy delivering political points

The Sangai Express Editorial 17 January 2017

It is now obvious to all. No one wants to resolve the ongoing economic blockade, with the Congress and the BJP more keen on delivering political points against each other and the United Naga Council more than ready to continue with the economic blockade. Caught in the middle are the public, the ones who have been directly facing the impact of the economic blockade and it is not at all pleasant. The Assembly election is obviously central to the stand adopted by the two political parties and ancestral land is the cry which has been raised by the UNC and several Naga bodies. If the Congress Government here, under Chief Minister O Ibobi, created the seven new districts, particularly, Kangpokpi and Jiribam districts with an eye on the polls, the BJP at the Centre has been trying to find the weak spot in the armour of the Congress here and in the process is trying to make the Congress pay for it via the sufferings of the people. The political calculation here is simple. Let the UNC continue with the blockade and in the process let the angst of the people turn against the State Government and then reap the dividends when election comes. Or maybe the BJP has a better idea than this, but it all boils down to the Assembly election. On the other hand, the Congress, after creating the seven new districts, wants to pass the baton on to the BJP led Central Government on the pretext that National Highways come under the Centre. Which way the political wind blows, as understood within the parameter of the upcoming Assembly election, remains to be seen, but let it be clear to all that the blame game that one has been witnessing ever since the economic blockade came into force should be seen within the context of the upcoming Assembly election.

Dangerous brand of politics and this is what is unacceptable. The blame game may also be seen in the manner in which the ball has been tossed around in the context of arranging a tri-partite talk between the State Government, the UNC and the Central Government. If the State Government failed to respond to the invitation of the Centre to have a talk with the UNC on November 15 last year at Delhi, this time round, the Centre has not responded to the approach of the State Government to arrange such a talk to bring an end to the impasse. Instead it has deemed it better to let the State Government take the initiative of inviting the UNC to the negotiating table with the Centre acting as the observer or whatever term one may give. Playing politics with the lifelines of the people and there is nothing amusing about this. This is not the time to try and take political mileage out of the situation but for Delhi and Imphal to co-operate and see how to proceed and get the blockade lifted. Not likely that the State Government will roll back the decision to create the new districts and highly unlikely that the UNC will unilaterally take the decision to lift the ongoing economic blockade. The task at hand then will be for the Centre to see how it can negotiate with the NSCN (IM) which in turn can talk with the UNC and see how things may be settled.

Haokip rubbishes Javadekar “outburst”

By B Rakesh Sharma
Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL | Jan 16

Manipur PCC president T N Haokip has dismissed Union human resource development minister, Prakash Javadekar’s demand for chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s resignation on the issue of the economic blockade as “rubbish.” Reacting to the “outburst” by the Union minister yesterday and today against the Congress government in the state Haokip said demanding resignation after announcement of model code of conduct is totally “meaningless.”

“BJP may not be seeing any chance of winning in the upcoming assembly election. Therefore the statement made by Javadekar is nothing but rubbish and absurd. He knows nothing about the ground situation,” Haokip told Imphal Free Press.

Javadekar, who arrived here yesterday to oversee BJP’s preparation for the assembly election, told a press conference yesterday that the chief minister should resign as he has failed to remove the blockade despite more than adequate central forces were provided. Javadekar is the BJP in-charge of Manipur election. Javadekar continued his tirade against Ibobi Singh government for the second consecutive day today.

“Why Ibobi Singh is remaining silent. I am making specific charges on the issue of economic blockade. He is silent because he is guilty and he is a culprit. Earlier he used to react to Union ministers. He is responsible for the sufferings of the people,” the BJP leader said today.

IW continues election exercise

IMPHAL | Jan 16
Imphal Free Press

The District Election Office, Imphal West organised an emergency meeting today with all the district-level officers of the district at the DC’s court hall, said a release. It further said the main motive behind the meeting was to collect the details of the staff/employees under their respective control or offices including EPIC number, Aadhar card, Bank account number and mobile numbers in connection with the ensuing state assembly election 2017.

The DEO, Imphal West Robert Singh Kshetrimayum issued an urgent notice to give the details of all eligible staffs of the line departments that is required for polling personnel per lastest instrucution of the Election Commission of India, the release continued.

PRJA to field 5 candidates

Imphal Free Press
IMPHAL | Jan 15

Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance, PRJA today announced that the party will field candidates in five constituencies in the ensuing Manipur assembly elections.

The candidates are Oinam Iliyash Khan for Lilong A/c, Nazima Phundreimayum for Wabagai A/c, Buwang Kho for Karong A/c, Erendro Leichombam for Thangmeiband and Irom Sharmila from Thoubal Constituency against Okram Ibobi Singh.

Javadekar tells Ibobi: Go, resign

IMPHAL | Jan 15
Imphal Free Press

The Union human resource minister Prakash Javadekar today demanded resignation of Okram Ibobi Singh, accusing him of failing to remove the economic blockade even after “more than adequate” central forces have been provided by the Centre.

“Ibobi government is not using forces provided by the Centre. They are put to barracks. If you can’t deliver, resign. Go, Ibobi go. You can invite President’s rule,” Javadekar, who is also BJP’s Manipur election in-charge, said during a press conference at the BJP head office here today. Javadekar charged that Ibobi led Congress government is playing “divide and rule policy” for electoral gains.

“Ibobi Singh’s poll plank is divide and rule. BJP’s plank is unite and develop. Ibobi Singh and his party are destroying Manipur. Blockades suits Ibobi’s politics,” he charged.

The blockade has only brought sufferings to general public as it has triggered price rise, scarcity of essential commodities and as well as violence, Javadekar claimed. He said in addition to the existing 175 central para-military forces deployed in the state last month the Centre had provided 30 additional para-military forces for removing the blockade. He said that the Centre cannot intervene directly as the blockade is state’s law and order issue.

On the increasing demand for initiation of tripartite talks by the Centre the BJP leader said talks with the United Naga Council (UNC) is the sole responsibility of the state government. The Centre can send representatives to talks between the state government and the UNC, he said.

Stating that when the Centre tried to help by convening a tripartite talk in November Ibobi Singh government did not respond, he said the state government is not cooperative. He however, added that, the Centre is ready to help out the state government on the issue of blockade.

BJP poll panel to meet on Tuesday

Imphal Free Press

IMPHAL | Jan 15

The BJP central election committee will meet on Tuesday in Delhi to finalise the party’s candidates for the upcoming state assembly elections, Union minister in-charge of human resource development and the party’s Manipur election in-charge, Prakash Javadekar told a press conference here today.

Though BJP’s arch rival and ruling party, Congress is in the final stage of finalising its candidates the BJP is yet to initiate concrete steps to finalise party candidates.

“We are holding the state unit’s core committee meeting here tonight. After this the party’s central election committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss Manipur’s ticket issue,” Javadekar said.

It is speculated that the BJP is waiting for finalisation of Congress tickets so as to prevent BJP ticket aspirants to break ranks and seek Congress tickets after some of them are denied party tickets. Each of the 60 assembly seats throws up many BJP ticket aspirants.

The BJP leader expressed the hope that this time BJP will come to power after ending 15 years of Congress “misrule.”

Everyone wants a change in the state of Manipur, Javadekar said promising that BJP will bring positive change with development in Manipur.

NPF to ignore boycott call, contest civic polls

The Sangai Express

Kohima, January 15 2017: The ruling Naga People's Front (NPF) today affirmed not to withdraw any candidate from the February 1 elections to Urban Local Bodies in the State in the face of the boycott call and warning of ex-communications to candidates by different tribal organisations in Nagaland.

Accepting the resolutions of respective tribal organisations, so far 53 candidates out of the 535 validly nominated candidates have withdrawn. The boycott call and warning to candidates have been given against 33 per cent reservation for women in Urban Local Body (ULB) elections. NPF has filed nominations of 255 candidates for the 26 municipal and town council elections but 12 of them have already withdrawn in compliance with the tribal body resolutions.

Extended nominations came to end on January 9 while the last date of withdrawal is January 17. However, the NPF central officials today held a meeting in the residence of its president Shurhozelie Liezietsu and took stock of the situation arising out of the ensuing Municipal and Town Council election in the State.

The NPF officials resolved that the NPF would go ahead with the election process as per the schedule announced by the State Election Commission. Since the tickets of the party were issued to the primary and active membership holders of the party after administering pledge, the NPF resolved that no ticket holder should withdraw from the fray.

Don't hear pleas: ECI to CMs, Ministers of poll bound States

The Sangai Express / Express News Service

New Delhi, January 15 2017: The Election Commission has told Ministers and Chief Ministers of poll-bound States to stop hearing appeals of people till the time the Model Code of Conducted MCC remains in force. It has also instructed the State administrations to prohibit the sale of liquor in shops, restaurants, hotels and at all other places during the polling time.

Moreover, the Poll Panel directed the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) in the five poll-bound States to ask the police brass that cash transfers during the election period be carried out under the protection of cops and that they be kept informed about such movements from banks or currency chests.

The EC, in its directives to the CEOs of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa, has cited the standing orders issued by it in this regard even as it appended the recent instructions issued by the Department of Financial Services (DFS) under the Finance Ministry on the subject.

The DFS had said, " The operating procedure for transportation of cash by banks and transfer of currency from one chest to another operated by the banks within the State or inter-State level as laid down in the above mentioned letters shall be followed scrupulously" .

The EC directives on transportation of cash are seen in the backdrop of an incident in poll-bound Tamil Nadu last year, when three trucks carrying Rs 570 crore were intercepted by EC-appointed surveillance teams.

On public hearing by the Ministers or Chief Ministers, the poll panel has said that it has direct or indirect influence on the voters and it might disturb the level playing field.

The Poll Panel was of the view that if any such hearing were found to be necessary, it should be held by the senior officers.

The EC has also said that Dry Day should be declared and notified under the relevant State laws during 48 hours ending with conclusion of the polls.

States, including Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur will go for Assembly polls between February 4 and March 8 and the model code of conduct came into force on January 4 when the EC announced the election schedule.

CEO informs

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 15 2017: Chief Electoral Officer Manipur has informed that voters may check electoral rolls and news related to the ensuing 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election through the website

For getting the information, voters have to register his/her mobile number at the link "Registration for Voter" after opening the website. CEO Office has started preparation to send SMS related information to those mobile numbers registered with the link.

So far, the office has received 300 complaints regarding violation of election code of conduct and electoral rolls.

Don't attend : UNC

The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 15 2017: The United Naga Council (UNC) has said that no Naga should take part in the January 20 meeting between the 'valley based' civil society organisations and Centre's interlocutor for Naga peace talk RN Ravi in New Delhi, reports NNN.

RN Ravi had reportedly sent invitations to 'valley based' civil society organisations on January 3 requesting the organisations to participate in the consultation meeting on the prevailing situation of Manipur to be held on January 20 .

"In case of any Naga taking part in that meeting, and in the event of any opinion expressed or signature appended it will be the participant's sole opinion, and that, he or she does not represent the Naga people," said UNC in a statement.

Election Model Code of Conduct : Use of Loudspeakers for election

No.4/56/ELEC/PR/SAE-2017: The Election commission of India (ECl) vide press NotesNo.ECvpNfitzolT & No. ECI/PN/2/2017 dated 0410112017has announced 2(two) phases of Poll Schedule for the General Elections to the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly and with the announcement of Election Schedule by the Election Commission, the Model Code of Conduct came into effect w.e.f. 4ih January,2017 and applies to the whole of Manipur State and applicable to all candidates, political parties, the state and Union Government as far as Manipur State is concerned.


A. Use of Loudspeakers for election campaigns' Consolidated instructions

All political parties, candidates and their workers, supporters and sympathizers are using loudspeakers for their electioneering campaigns' These loudspeakers are not only used from fixed rostrums but. are also used mounted/fitted on vehicles like trucks, tempos, cars, taxis, vans, three wheeler scooters, cycle rickshaws, etc. These vehicles move on all roads, streets and lanes and also so around villages, basties, Mohallas, colonies and localities with the loudspeakers broadcasting at very great volume. This results in serious ,noise pollution' and causes great disturbance to the peace and tranquillity of the general public. The student community, in particular, gets seriously disturbed as their studies are badly hampered because the loudspeakers stall blaring from very early hours in the morning and continue to do so throughout the day and till extremely late hours in the night. The aged, the infirm and the sick whether in institutions, hospitals, etc. or at home are also put to severe discomfort'

2.. The Commission is aware that the use of loudspeakers cannot be stopped altogether during the election period as the loudspeakers are one of the means of election propaganda and imparting information to public. But at the same time, indiscriminate and unfettered use of loudspeaker at odd hours and at odd places at very high volumes which have the effect of disturbing peace and tranquillity and causing annoyance to the general public, the sick, and the student community in particular cannot be permitted. Some reasonable restrictions are essential.

3. After considering all aspects of the matter, the Commission, in exercise of its powers conferred by Article 324 of the Constitution and all other powers enabling it in this behalf and in supersession of its earlier instructions, hereby DIRECTS that the use of loudspeakers at all future elections shall be strictly regulated as follows:-

(i) The use of loudspeakers, whether fitted on vehicles of any kind whatsoever, or in static position used for public meetings for electioneering purposes, during the entire election period starting from the date of announcement of election and ending with the date of declaration of results shall be permitted only (a) between 6.00 a.m. and 11.00 p.m in rural areas i.e. areas outside corporation or municipal Limits: and (b) between 6'00 a.m. and 10.00 p.m. in other areas, i.e. areas falling within corporation or municipal limits.

(ii) All loudspeakers whether used for general propaganda or for public meetings or procession, and whether used on moving vehicles or otherwise' shall be used during the restricted hours only mentioned in clauses (ii) above and never beyond.

(iii) All loudspeaker being used beyond the hours as prescribed above, shall be confiscated along with all the apparatus connected with the use of these loudspeakers.

(iv) All political parties, candidates and any other persons using any loudspeakers on moving vehicles including but not restricted to trucks, tempos, cars, taxis, vans, three wheelers, Cycle rickshaws, etc' shall intimate the registration identification number of those vehicles to the authorities getting permission to use the loudspeakers and such registration identification numbers of the vehicles shall be indicated on the permits granted by the authorities concerned'

(v) Any vehicle on which a loudspeaker is used without the said written permit shall be confiscated forthwith along with the loudspeaker and all the apparatus used along with it.

(vi) All political parties, candidates and even other person using any loudspeaker either on a moving vehicle or at a fixed place shall intimate -

(1) the Returning Officer of the Constituency, and

1)j local police authorities, in writing, the full details of the permits obtained by them before using any of those loudspeakers' in the case of loudspeakers, the registration identification numbers of the vehicles shall also be registered by them with the Returning Officer and the local Police authorities'

(vii) lt shall be the responsibility of the state Government authorities granting permits for use of loudspeakers and the local Police authorities to strictly enforce that no loudspeaker is used by anyone in violation of any of the above directions,

4. No loudspeakers fitted on vehicles of any kind or in any other manner whatsoever shall be permitted to be used during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll in any polling area' Even after the close of poll proper law and order is required to be maintained till completion of election after the declaration of result. Use of loudspeakers is generally regarded as source of public nuisance and can often give rise to tension in a politically surcharged atmosphere. The District Administrations should, therefore, consider any application for permission to use loudspeakers after the aforesaid prohibitory period of 48 hours, on merit of each application and keeping in view the need to maintain proper law and order till the completion of election.

B. Restrictions on presence of political functionaries in a Constituency after the Campaign Period is over

Under Section 126 of the' Representation of the People Act, 1951, in the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the close of poll, the campaign will come to an end.

2. During the course of campaign in bye -election, the political parties mobilize their supporters, including from outside the constituency of poll, in order to bolster that campaign. In view of the fact that the closure of campaign period no camping period no campaign can take place within the constituency, presence of political functionaries/party workers/procession functionaries/campaign functionaries etc., who have been brought from outside the constituency and who are not voters of the constituency, should not continue to remain present In the constituency aS their continued presence after campaign ends may undermine the atmosphere for free and fair poll.

3. Hence the Commission has directed that after the campaign period is over, the district election administration/police administration shall ensure that all such functionaries leave the constituency immediately after the campaign period is over, This shall be brought to the notice of all political parties, candidates and their agents in order them to comply'

4. The Commission further directs that in order to ensure that the above instruction is carried out, the election administration/police may take all necessary measures which may include:

1. Checking of kalian mandapams/ community halls etc., where such people ire kept housed and find out whether the outsiders have been accommodated in these Premises.

2, Verification of lodges and guesthouses to keep a track of the list of occupants.

3. Set up check-posts in the constituency borders and track the vehicular movement from outside the constituency.

4. Verify the identity of the people/group of people in order to find out whether they are voters or not and establish their identity.

(Vivek Kumar Dewangan)
Chief Electoral Officer, Manipur

No.4/56/ELEC/PR/SAE-2017: The Election commission of India (ECl) vide press Notes No.ECltPNlll2olT & No. ECI/PN/2/2017 dated 0410112017has announced 2(two) phases of Poll Schedule for the General Elections to the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly and with the announcement of Election schedule by the Election Commission, the Model Code of Conduct came into effect w.e.f. 4in January,2017 and applies to the whole of Manipur State and applicable to all candidates, political parties, the State and Union Government as far as Manipur State is concerned'

A. On Govt. Scheme and Welfare Programmes:

1. The following types of existing works can be continued by the government agencies without reference to the Election Commission after the Model Code of Conduct comes into force:

a. Work-projects that have actually started on the ground after obtaining all necessary sanctions;

b. Beneficiary-projects where specific beneficiaries by name have been identified before coming of the Model Code of Conduct into force;

c. Registered beneficiaries of NREGA may be covered under existing projects. New projects under NREGA that may be mandated under the provisions of the Act may be taken up only if it is for the already registered beneficiaries and the project is already listed in the approved and sanctioned shelf of projects for which funds are also already earmarked

2. There shall be no bar to release of funds for the completed portion of any work subject to observance of laid down procedures and concurrence of finance department.

3. The following type of new works (whether beneficiary or work oriented) that fulfill all the following conditions before Model Code of Conduct comes into effect, can be taken up under intimation to the commission.

a. Full funding has been tied up. b. Administrative, technical and financial sanctions have been obtained c. Tender has been floated, evaluated and awarded and

d. There is contractual obligation to start and end the work within a given time frame and failing which there is an obligation to impose penalty on the contractor

e. In case of any of the above conditions not being met in such cases prior approval of the Commission shall be sought and obtained.

4. Global tenders already floated, can be evaluated and finalized where any time limits are specified for such purpose'

5. Tenders other than global tenders, that are already floated may be evaluated but not finalized without prior approval of the Commission. lf they are not already floated, they shall not be floated without prior approval of the Commission.

6. Commission invariably takes a humanitarian view on the work that are necessitated due to man-made or natural calamities'

a. Ex-gratia payments and gratuitous relief in the aftermath of a disaster can be given directly to the persons affected at the current rates/scales of assistance presently in force, under intimation to the Commission. No change in the extant and prescribed scales of payments, however, shall be made in the existing rates/scales without prior permission of the Commission'

b. Payment directly to the hospitals from CM's/PM's Relief Fund, in lieu of direct cash payment to individual patients (beneficiaries) will be permissible without reference to the Commission.

c. Emergent relief works and measures that are aimed to mitigate the hardships, directly and solely, of the persons affected in a disaster may be taken up under intimation to the Commission.

d. However, new works that may be necessitated by way of preventive measures to mitigate the likely effects of natural disasters like repair of embankments, water channels etc, can be taken up only with prior permission of the Commission.

e. Also. an area shall not be declared droughVflood affected or any such calamity affected without prior approval of the Commission. The extent of area already declared to be calamity-effected cannot be expanded without prior approval of the Commission.

f. Similarly, any selective assistance to a group of persons from the PM's or the CM's Relief Fund will require prior approval of the Commission'

7. The following type of activities will require prior permission of the Commission:

a. New works and project cannot be taken up from discretionary funds of whatever nature. Discretionary fund, in this context, includes funds, which are provided for in the budget in a generic manner and for which no identified and sanctioned project exists prior to Model Code of Conduct coming into effect.

b. Proposals for revival of sick PSUs, governmental take over of enterprises etc. (or any policy decision on similar lines) cannot be taken up'

c. Fresh auctions of liquor vends etc. cannot be held even if the annual auction time falls within the Model Code of Conduct period. Where necessary, the government should make interim arrangements as provided in their respective laws.

d. Area of operation of any existing project/schemeiprogramme can not be extended or exPanded.

e. No land allocation shall be made by the government to any entity, whether individual or an enterprise'

f. Signing a MOU or an agreement where the government is a party will also require prior clearance by the Commission.

B. Regular recruitmentiappointment or promotion through the UPSC, State public Service Commissions or the Staff Selection Commission or any other statutory authority can continue. Recruitments through non-statutory bodies, will require prior clearance of the Commission'

9. While starting any work (including any relief work) or developmental activity no formal function shall be held involving any politicalfunctionary.As a matter of good practice, normal functions and publicity even with the presence of official functionaries should be kept to the minimum.

10. Where works are to be undertaken orfunctions are to be held in fulfillment of international commitments, prior concurrence of the Commission shall be taken.

11. All Government of India references to the Election Commission of India shall be made preferably through the Cabinet Secretariat. ln so far as reference from State Governments is concerned, the same shall be made to the Election Commission of India through the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the state concerned.

B. Samadhan: lt is a Public Grievance Redressal System used in connection with Revision of Electoral Rolls and conduct of Elections. Every complain received both online or offline, is capture in this application software. Since its use in the state last month, 361 complaints have been registered out of which 336 have been disposed of and 25 are pending .

(Vivek Kumar Dewangan)
Chief Electoral Officer, Manipur