Manipur to go to 2nd phase of polling tomorrow
In 2017, Congress emerged as the single largest party in the state but was unable to form the government
IMPHAL: The second phase of polls to the 60-member Manipur assembly will be held for the 22 remaining seats on Saturday with both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress claiming to have an edge.
BJP state chief A Sharda Devi said they will get at least 15 of the 22 seats as the party has set a target of getting 40 plus seats to return to power.
Congress leaders said they are in a better position for the second phase. “We will get a minimum of 17 seats...,” said Congress’s Manipur in charge Bhakta Charan Das. Another Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the Congress will sweep the polls in the Thoubal district.
In 2017, Congress, which emerged as the single largest party but was unable to form the government, bagged eight out of 10 seats in Thoubal, the native district of former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh.
In the second phase, 92 candidates, including two women, are in the contest across six districts. The BJP has fielded candidates for all 22 seats while Congress for 18. National People’s Party has fielded 11, Naga People’s Front, and Janata Dal (U) 10 candidates each.
Okram Ibobi Singh, his son Surjakumar, ministers Awangbow Newmai and Losii Dikho are contesting in the second phase of the polling. Former deputy chief minister Gaikhangam, former ministers Th Radheshyam, and K Ranjit are also in the fray. Only two candidates each are contesting Nungba and Chandel seats. Wangkhem has the highest number of candidates (8). Okram Ibobi Singh is contesting against L Basanta Singh, who lost the last elections in Thoubal.
As many as 8,47,400 voters, including 4,28,968 women, are eligible to vote at 1,247 polling stations.
Violence in the Sugunu constituency marred the run-up to the second phase of polling. Five villagers were allegedly assaulted in Singhat for supporting a particular candidate.
The Election Commission of India has also ordered re-polling at 12 polling stations across five assembly constituencies in Manipur’s Churachandpur, Imphal East, and Kangpokpi districts on Saturday.
Chief electoral officer Rajesh Agrawal on Thursday said re-polling was recommended based on information from returning officers and damage to electronic voting machines.
At least two people have been arrested for damaging election equipment on February 28 when the first phase of polling was held. More arrests were expected.
The electioneering for the second phase ended at 4 pm on Thursday. Ahead of the silent period, which starts 48 hours prior to the end of polling, chief minister N Biren Singh on Thursday held a door-to-door campaign and addressed public meetings.