Thursday, January 26, 2012

Manipur goes to Polls on 28th Jan 2012


In the biggest democracy – 5 states are to go to polls.  In India, we have a quasi Federal Government – elected officials at the National, State and local levels – the Head of the Govt., the Prime Minister as also the Chief Minister gets elected by the Majority party.   Soon, we will have new Chief Ministers (or the earlier ones with new mandate) in Goa, Manipur, Punjab, Uttrakhand and Uttar Pradesh

There are lots of comments on the EC order of suitably covering the statues of elephants and statues of Ms Mayawati constructed in public places at government expenses. The Model Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates envisages providing a level playing field for all political parties and candidates at an election.  There are instructions that images & photos of CM / PM / Ministers etc., are not to be displayed in Govt building and premises as that could potentially disturb the level playing field.  Though one tends to ask whether other things – say cycles would be so covered ?   It remains a fact that these statues of elephants are not symbolic of the mammoth mammals of genre – Elephas & Loxodonta but are sought to depict the election symbol of BSP – erected in public places incurring huge expenditure. The EC has clarified that continued display at public places would be  violative of the spirit of the Model Code.

India has such wide and culture that people at one State may not fully understand the  traits of another State.  Manipur, in North Eastern India has Imphal as its capital.  It is bounded by Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam and borders Burma to the east.   There are many ethnic groups and Manipuri (Meiteilon) is the lingua franca of the State.  Earlier foreigners entering Manipur were required to possess Restricted Area Permit, which has been relaxed now.   Manipur has river basins and good water resources.  The Manipur river basin has eight major rivers: the Manipur, Imphal, Iril, Nambul, Sekmai, Chakpi, Thoubal and Khuga. All these rivers originate from the surrounding hills.  Besides the other religions practiced, Gaudiya Vaishnavism is also predominant.  It is a religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

In the 2007 Elections, INC won 30 of the 60 seats.  For the first time, the 62-year old Election Commission has ordered the photographing of all voters of Manipur on January 28, when the State goes to the polls, in order to prevent rigging and impersonation.  Manipur has an electorate of 16,77,270 spread over 60 constituencies.  The Polling is to take place on Jan 28, 2012 and a total of 279 candidates are in the fray.   The main parties who have put up candidates in the polls are Congress (60), Trinamool Congress (48), Manipur State Congress Party (31), CPI (24), NCP (22), BJP (19) and Manipur People's Party (14) among others.

As the State goes to Poll – it appears that there is no dearth of money at Manipur as seen from the assets declared by various contestants.  It is reported that a total of 33 millionaires are in the fray.  Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s assets jumped to a whopping 1,079 percent from Rs 6 lakhs in 2007 to Rs 71 lakhs this year.  Still, there are feelings that this does not appropriately reflect his wealth as he is said to possess properties in places like Goa, Bangalore and Gurgaon.  Congressman and the state’s Information and Tourism Minister TN Haokip has made the biggest leap during his recent five-year stint. His property jumped from a paltry Rs 29.7 lakh to a whopping Rs 9.77 crore in 2012.

Trinamool Congress’s Khagda Bahadur claims to be penniless. 

There are further reports that the  two main contenders for Khurai Assembly seat are the same and the only difference is they have switched sides this time. Nothing uncommon in the volatile politics of Manipur but will it bring a change of fortune?   Here,  there is a straight fight between sitting MLA N Bijoy Singh of ruling Congress and Ningthoujam Bihari Singh of opposition Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP).  The bitter political rivals have swapped sides.  Meantime, the statement of Union home secretary RK Singh, that Indian insurgent groups based in the neighbouring country were planning to create disturbances in the coming elections in Manipur,  is a matter of grave concern.  The home secretary raised the issue at the 17th national level meeting between the two countries at Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar. To trace the recipients of arms smuggled into India, Singh requested Myanmar to share interrogation reports of arms smugglers arrested by Myanmar security forces.
It is the responsibility of the Govt to suppress such forces and ensure a free and fair polling, which only will do good to the Nation.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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