Manipur goes to polls today, all eyes on Irom Sharmila

Manipur goes to polls today, all eyes on Irom Sharmila

Decks are cleared for the first phase of the Manipur Assembly elections which will be held on Saturday amid tight security arrangements. Polling will start at 7 am on Saturday in the state where elections are to be held in two phases.

The first phase will cover 38 constituencies for which 1,643 polling stations have been set up in areas spread over Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur and the hill districts of Churachandpur and Kangpokpi.

In all, 168 candidates will contest in the first phase. The state has a 19,02,562-strong electorate comprising 9,28,573 male voters and 9,73,989 female voters. There are around 45,642 new voters.

In the run-up to the election for the 60-member House, all political parties in their campaigns mainly focused on the continuing economic blockade imposed by the United Naga Council and the state government’s inability to break it.

Congress leaders, including party vice president Rahul Gandhi, put the spotlight on the “secretive nature” and contents of the Naga Framework Agreement between the central government and the NSCN (IM) in 2015.

BJP leaders targeted the ruling party for its alleged failure to lift the over three month-long economic blockade on the two national highways of the land-locked state.

All eyes are on rights activist Irom Sharmila Chanu who broke her 16-year fast last year and founded a party of her own “Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance” to fight the Assembly election in her quest to get the dreaded AFSPA repealed. The party is fielding three candidates. The fate of one of the candidates would be decided in the first phase of the elections.

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