As the Lok Sabha elections approach in Manipur, the usual signs of campaigning are reportedly missing in the state capital of Imphal and nearby areas. Instead, there are a lot of security personnel around, suggesting things aren’t quite normal even after almost a year since the violence engulfed the state beginning 3 May 2023.

In Imphal, election posters or banners are missing, and there aren’t any mass political gatherings either. But behind the scenes, politicians are still trying to get support from people, even though they’re not doing it openly.
A resident told Mokokchung Times, ”No political party is campaigning openly but the MLAs and the Ministers are calling people to their residence secretly.”

Imphal falls under the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat. The election for the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat is on April 19.

In this election, the candidates for the Inner Manipur constituency are BJP’s Thounaojam Basantakumar, Congress’s Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, Maheshwar Thounaojam of the Republican Party of India (Athawale), and three Independent candidates – RK Somendro, Moirangthem Tomtomsana Nongshaba, and Haorungbam Sarat.

According to the source, BJP is reportedly wooing voters stating that they are the “only party that can control the Manipur issue while other parties will fail to do so.”

”The Congress candidate is also strong but because the BJP is ruling, they will do everything to win. The BJP does have a better advantage,” an observer said.

Meanwhile, in Moreh, a border town in the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency, there’s no excitement about the elections either. Instead, one will see the reminders of past violence such as burnt houses, destroyed properties and lots of security personnel.

In the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency, Timothy Zimik from NPF; Alfred K Arthur from INC; and independent candidates Dr Alyson Abonmai and S Kho John are in the fray. Outer Manipur will vote on 26 April.

However, despite relative calm since the announcement of candidates, lingering discontent prevails among the electorate. Members of civil society, such as the women’s group Meira Paibis, expressed their frustrations and a sense of betrayal by political representatives.

“People, irrespective of party affiliations, will not take part in any activities related to the elections as they are angry with how the conflict was handled. People voted for BJP in 2019 and Congress before that but all betrayed us when we plunged into crisis. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had come seeking votes before the 2019 elections. Why is he not coming now when people are suffering?” a protester was quoted by Deccan Herald.

It may be noted that since the violence erupted, Prime Minister Modi visited neighboring Assam twice but has failed to visit Manipur till today.

According to PTI, the majority of over 50,000 internally displaced people are currently staying at relief centers across five valley districts and three hill districts. At least 219 people have been killed in the ethnic strife in the state that started on 3 May last year after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organized in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status.

MTNews Desk

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