Militant outfit backs BJP candidates in Manipur polls, Congress objects

In an unprecedented development, militant outfit Kuki National Organisation (KNO), which is under Suspension of Operation (SoO), announced support to all the candidates of the ruling BJP in the Manipur Assembly elections.

The opposition Congress on Saturday strongly reacted to the development and urged the Election Commission to take appropriate actions against the KNO outfit.

The President of KNO, P.S. Haokip, said in a statement on Friday night: “In line with the ongoing political dialogue between KNO and the government of India, the Centre and the ruling BJP leadership have promised swift settlement of Kuki political aspirations. Home Minister Amit Shah had announced the same in his public address on February 23 at the Churachandpur public Ground.

“Therefore, the KNO has resolved to extend support to all BJP candidates for the Manipur Assembly elections.”

The KNO appealed to all its chiefs, civil society organisation leaders and voters to support BJP candidates in all KNO operational areas, and any person or organisation acting contrary to this appeal will be deemed acting against Kuki interest, the statement said.

Congress in-charge for Manipur elections, Jairam Ramesh, tweeted, “Aap Chronology Samjihye 22.02.22: PM comes to Manipur, 23.02.22: Union Home Minister comes to Manipur, 25.02.22: Banned outfit Kuki National Organisation issues a statement supporting BJP and threatening voters.”

A statement, signed by former Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, former Union minister Salman Khurshid and Ramesh said that the statement issued by the KNO is a direct and clear threat to the conduct of free and fair elections in Manipur.

“It blatantly intimidates people to vote for the BJP holding out dire consequences to those who will not follow its instructions. This statement has been issued with the full knowledge and connivance of the Union Home Minister and Manipur Chief Minister.

“The Congress calls upon the Chief Election Commissioner and the Chief Electoral Officer of Manipur to take the most serious and urgent note of this deliberate, dangerous, and diabolical statement that violates in unmistakable language the Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct and take urgent action to ensure that fear spread by the statement of the KNO is completely removed,” the Congress statement said.

In the run-up to the polls, the National People’s Party (NPP), a estranged ally of the BJP-led government in Manipur, had earlier complained to the Election Commission that its candidates were being threatened by the cadres of the several militant outfits.

Amit Shah, while addressing election rallies in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi on February 23, had said that the government would hold discussions with the Kuki militant outfits in Manipur and it is expected to resolve their problems, if any, to bring them back into the mainstream.

“In Assam, the historic Bodo accord was signed. A large number of Bodo militants and extremists in Karbi Anglong district have surrendered before the government. Instead of arms and ammunition, the former militants now carry laptops, keys of industrial enterprises, bikes and vehicles,” Shah had asserted.

The elections to the 60-seat Manipur Assembly would be held in two phases on February 28 and March 5. The counting of votes will be taken up on March 10.

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