The ruling Congress government, the BJP are ready to turn blockade into the main election issue
With the economic blockade in Manipur imposed by United Naga Council over the creation of seven new districts completing 70 days, the ruling Congress government in the state as well as the BJP are ready to turn the blockade into the main election issue. Manipur will go to polls in March.
Last week in Guwahati, top Congress leaders across northeast brainstormed with central leaders. The party has already lost both Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to the BJP and with elections in Manipur a month away, the Congress knows it will also face the anti-incumbency of the 15 years rule apart from the blockade blues.
"Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh is a capable chief minister; he has created new districts for better governance so you cannot say that we are trying to take political mileage," AICC general Secretary In-charge of Northeast CP Joshi told NDTV at Guwahati.
Today, Mr Ibobi is in Delhi to finalise party candidate list for the 60 seats legislative assembly which goes to polls in two phases on March 4 and 8.
Attempts by both centre and state have failed and the Nagas living inside Manipur have only intensified the economic blockade, which started on November 1.
"We understand that elections are going to take place but first our issues have to be heard. Both centre and state government have not been responsible. Nagas have a major say here" said S Milan, the general Secretary of the UNC.
BJP's national executive that also met last week at the national capital decided to promise voters blockade-free governance. BJP wants to go alone in Manipur and thus its northeast strategists are aiming barbs even at Naga groups.
"We consider what UNC and Nagas are doing is wrong. People in the state are suffering due to lack of essential and medical and health services and this not a democratic way," said
Himanta Biswa Sarma, Convenor, BJP-led Northeast Democratic Alliance.
The Congress feels holding the polls in March would help it but the BJP's 'no blockade slogans' might catch up.
"We welcome this call for blockade free governance by BJP and we are looking forward to it" said a young voter from Imphal.
Another senior citizen with whom NDTV spoke to lamented that Manipur still lacks basic infrastructure.