Manipur Assembly elections 2017: What all are the burning issues in this crucial electoral battle
burning-issues:Imphal: With Manipur going to polls on March 4 and 8, political parties have a host of issues to contend with.
While Congress is trying to cash in on development done by the party to retain power in the state, on the other hand, BJP, after recently bagging Assam polls, is leaving no stone unturned to turn the state saffron.
There are a number of burning issues which are being grabbed by political parties to woo voters and ensure victory in the state where 60 seats are up for grabs. Here are some of the key issues:-
Frequent bandhs: Economic blockade
This has become one of the most important poll issues in the blockade-hit Manipur.
Since November last year, the landlocked state was cut off from the rest of the country.
Due to blockade of national highways – NH2 (between Nagaland and Manipur) and NH37 (between Assam and Manipur) – the people of Manipur suffered a lot.
The blockade was a result of protest by United Naga Council (UNC) activists showing their against the state government’s plan to create new
districts by bifurcating what they call ‘ancestral Naga areas’.
Despite repeated protests, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi-led Manipur government went ahead with its plan and created seven new districts.
However, several people who know Manipur politics, claim that this was done to appease a major chunk of voters (Meitei and Kuki) in the poll-
Top central ministers, along with security officials, have also reviewed thesituation in Manipur where the economic blockade on national highways has crippled normal life.
Around 20,000 central security personnel have been sent to the northeastern state keeping in view the security situation in the wake of violence following the economic blockade imposed by the Union Naga Council (UNC) on the National Highways since November 1. The UNC imposed the economic blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH-37 (Imphal-Jiribam) that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur.
Also, the election process in at least 30 assembly constituencies in Manipur is likely to be affected as a key National Highway in the state continues to remain blocked.
burning-issues:The central government seems to be in a fix over its limited options in removing the blockade on NH-2 in Manipur as it is not keen to impose President’s rule and the law and order is completely under the domain of the state government.
Even though conducting polls is the responsibility of the Election Commission, central government is concerned over the crisis of essential commodities and their skyrocketing prices.
Territorial integrity: Inner-Line Permit (ILP)
The Inner-Line Permit (ILP) issue remains a key election plank for an overwhelming number of voters in Manipur.
With the influx of illegal immigration from Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar, the state wants ILP to protect its indigenous people.
Reportedly, economic blockades and frequent bandhs too started with an agitation for an ILP system for Manipur, to restrict entry of ‘outsiders’ to the state.
The British used ILP to safeguard their revenue-generating regions in the Northeast against raiding tribal communities from the hills.
As of now, ILP system is already implemented in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
burning-issues:Reportedly, out of 7 million people in Manipur, about 700,000 are of non-Manipur origins.
Manipur Visitors, Tenants and Migrant Workers Bill, 2015
The state assembly passed the Bill claiming it addressed issues that the demand for ILP but the governor has not given ascent to the Bill.
Fake encounters: AFSPA
Repealing of AFSPA – Armed Forces Special Powers Act – is also a major poll issue in the state. There is a huge demand for parties to get the Centre to repeal AFSPA. In this regard, Manipur’s ‘Iron Lady’ Irom Sharmila was on over a decade-long fast. Sharmila has announced that she would contest the polls.
burning-issues:AFSPA confers special powers on the armed forces in the Northeast region. The act has been criticised for alleged fake encounters and facilitating human rights abuses.
Another issue that is plaguing Manipur is corruption.
BJP’s Manipur unit claims that people were buying jobs in the state.
Manipur Assembly elections: Schedule
burning-issues:Manipur will have a two-day polling on March 4 (38 constituencies) and March 8 (22 seats).
The results will be out on March 11.
burning-issues:The term of the current Legislative Assembly expires on 18 March 2017.
There are 60 seats up for grabs