Manipur polls: Campaign ends, voting for first phase on Monday

The months long hectic poll campaign for the first phase of Manipur Assembly elections came to an end on Saturday afternoon as the voting in the state would be held on Monday for 38 of the 60 seats in the five districts.

Election Officials said that the Central Armed Police Forces personnel took position in all the 38 poll bound assembly constituencies and the 9,895 polling personnel either reached or were on the way to their designated 1,721 polling stations.

The officials said that as part of a series of measures implemented to execute a Covid-safe election, mandatory sanitisation of the polling stations was done in different parts of the state.

In the first phase, 173 candidates, including 15 women, are contesting the elections and 12,22,713 voters including 6, 29,276 women electorates would decide their electoral fate.

In the over two-months long campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP President J.P. Nadda, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, his Tripura counterpart Biplab Kumar Deb, National People’s Party (NPP) supremo Conrad K. Sangma, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rajya Sabha Member Jairam Ramesh took part for their respective party candidates.

In the polling, the electoral fate of Chief Minister and BJP candidate N.Biren Singh, his cabinet colleague Thongam Biswajit Singh, NPP candidate and Deputy Chief Minister Yumnam Joykumar Singh, senior BJP leader Thokchom Satyabrata Singh, Congress’ Ratankumar Singh, Lokeshwar Singh, Saratchandra Singh, sitting party MLA Akoijam Mirabai Devi are at stake.

Firebrand women leader and Janata Dal (United) candidate Thounaojam Brinda, who was the Additional Superintendent of Police (Headquarters), also contesting in the first phase of polling from the Yaiskul constituency.

The BJP, which had bagged 21 seats in the 60-member assembly in 2017 and wrested the power for the first time, stitching together a coalition government with the support of four NPP MLAs, four Naga People’s Front (NPF) members, the lone Trinamool Congress MLA and an Independent member. However, this time the BJP, NPP and the NPF are contesting separately and put-up candidates against each other.

The NPP, the dominant party of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, has been an ally of the BJP in both the northeastern states (Meghalaya and Manipur) since 2017, has put up 38 candidates while the BJP fielded in all the 60 seats in the Manipur elections.

Congress, which governed the state for 15 consecutive years (2002-2017) and emerged as the single largest party by securing 28 seats in 2017 poll, this time formed a Manipur Progressive Secular Alliance (MPSA) after forging a pre-poll alliance with four Left parties and Janata Dal-Secular, The second phase of polling will be held in 22 seats on March 5. Votes will be counted on March 10.

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