With PM Narendra Modi As Campaign Face, BJP Eyes Assam Redux In Manipur

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The BJP has pitched Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its face in Manipur.


Imphal, Manipur:  As the two-phased Manipur assembly elections draw closer, campaigning in the state is at its peak. The BJP, which is hoping to replicate its Assam success in its second northeastern state, has pitched Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its face. BJP president Amit Shah will also try to promote Brand Modi in Manipur. The question is, whether the party can best Congress' master strategist and three-time Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

Last week, during PM Modi's rally in Imphal, a group of educated but unemployed Manipuri youth heard promises of jobs on merit. They had come from Thoubal, 30 km from Imphal, the stronghold of the Chief Minister.

"I gave many interviews, but never got a job," said 37-year-old Joychandra Singh, who did his Masters in rural development. He voted for Ibobi Singh all his life, but now, he says it's time for 'poriborton' (change) for him.

During his rally last week, PM Modi made a jibe at Ibobi Singh and asked his audience, "Have you ever heard of a 10 per cent chief minister? Anywhere? Manipur now need zero per cent CM." The PM had over seven lakh educated yet unemployed youth of Manipur and 55,000 first-time voters on mind.

"We want good roads, better transportation, good hospitals all over Manipur. We want zero corruption and we hope that a change in the form of BJP is going to be good," said first-time voter, Neoren Singh.

In the last 15 years of Ibobi Singh's rule, schools in Manipur have always failed to complete their calendar year due to frequent shutdowns and blockades. The last week witnessed protests by youth and students asking PM Modi to make the details of the 2015 Framework Agreement public.

"The centre needs to give details of the framework agreement with Nagas, mere assurances will not do. We don't want to lose our land to the Nagas," said M Swamikumar Singh, student from Imphal.

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