Manipur wants change, says Congress leader Ibobi Singh

Congress has already announced a pre-poll alliance with CPI, CPI(M), Forward Bloc, RSP and JD(S)
Last Updated 23 February 2022, 06:40 IST

Former Chief Minister and Congress leader Okram Ibobi Singh feels Manipur is ripe for a change of government as people are "fed up" with the current dispensation.

The ruling BJP's "divisive politics" both at national and state level are unlikely to succeed in any of the five states going to the polls, Singh told PTI in an interview.

"I believe that the people of Manipur are fed up with BJP. It is just that they have not been able to express it openly. The BJP has been telling lies and making hollow promises. They have not converted any of their promises into action," he claimed.

Asserting that BJP's "systematic policy and plan both at national and state level" of indulging in divisive politics will not succeed, the veteran Congress leader said, "We will get to know about it with the outcome of the five state elections and in 2024 general elections. People are fed up with them."

Citing the example of the Framework Agreement signed in 2015 between the Centre and Naga rebel group NSCN (IM), he pointed out that the deal has not yielded a final outcome. Singh added that it was a case of keeping people in the dark, which in turn has led to erosion of trust.

"It's been so long that the agreement was signed but no one knows what is in it. Neither have they shared with the public nor have they completed the talks...I believe that even the Naga people have lost trust in the BJP and its ability to solve the issue," he said.

When asked how confident is the Congress of coming back to power after the upcoming state assembly election, Singh said, "Out of the total candidates that we have put up (53), we know the potential of each one and we strongly believe in the winning capability of 40-45 of them."

However, he said, "In case if we fall short of majority, there will be post-poll alliance with like- minded parties."

Congress has already announced a pre-poll alliance with CPI, CPI(M), Forward Bloc, RSP and JD(S).

Brushing aside BJP's claim that it will win over 40 seats in the 60-member assembly in Manipur, the three-time former chief minister said, "We will come to know when the results are out but from our view, let alone winning over 40 seats in total, in Imphal valley which has 40 assembly constituencies, they won't even win 15 seats."

He, however, admitted that being a small state there could be close fights with very narrow margins of win for the Congress.

Asked what steps the Congress has taken to prevent recurrence of what happened in 2017, when despite winning 28 seats and being the single largest party, the BJP was able to lure away its elected members to form the government, Singh said the party has learnt its lessons and would take "precautionary measures like staying together at a place" this time.

Singh refused to be drawn into discussions on whether he would be the Chief Minister if the Congress-led alliance comes to power in Manipur, stating, "That will be decided after the results are out. Within the Congress, we have a tradition that after the results are out, the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) will discuss and decide (on) the leadership. It can even be through secret ballot in the presence of observers from the high command."

Polling for the 60-seat Manipur Legislative Assembly will be held in two phases on February 28 and March 5 and the votes will be counted on March 10.

Check out latest DH videos on Assembly elections 2022 here

(Published 23 February 2022, 06:40 IST)

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