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Manipur gears up for 1st phase polling on Monday, 173 aspirants in fray

In the first phase, 12,22,713 voters including 6,29,276 women electorates would decide the fate of 173 candidates, including 15 women.

IANS | Imphal |

Amid the incidents of violence, the stage is all set for the first phase of Assembly elections in BJP-ruled Manipur on Monday for 38 of the 60 Assembly constituencies where the electoral fate of 173 candidates, including 15 women, will be decided.

Election Officials said that a large contingent of Central Armed Police Forces personnel were deployed in all the 38 poll-bound Assembly constituencies while the 9,895 polling personnel have already reached their designated 1,721 polling stations.

To hold a Covid-safe election, mandatory sanitisation of the polling stations was done in different parts of the state and other measures, including the use of masks and sanitizer by everyone, was strictly followed.

In the first phase, 12,22,713 voters including 6,29,276 women electorates would decide the fate of 173 candidates, including 15 women.

The poll-bound Northeastern state witnessed several incidents of violence in the past few days killing two people and injuring many, including a candidate and a candidate’s father. In the over two-months long campaign, which ended on Saturday afternoon, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP President J.P. Nadda, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, his Tripura counterpart Biplab Kumar Deb, National People’s Party (NPP) supremo Conrad K. Sangma, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rajya Sabha Member Jairam Ramesh took part were seen canvassing for their respective party candidates.

Development, militancy, illegal trade of drugs, repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), women empowerment, rising unemployment and corruption were the main issues highlighted by the political parties in their campaign.

In the Monday’s polling, the electoral fate of Chief Minister and BJP candidate N.Biren Singh, his cabinet colleague Thongam Biswajit Singh, NPP candidate and Deputy Chief Minister Yumnam Joykumar Singh, senior BJP leader Thokchom Satyabrata Singh, Congress’ Ratankumar Singh, Lokeshwar Singh, Saratchandra Singh, sitting party MLA Akoijam Mirabai Devi are at stake.

Firebrand women leader and Janata Dal (United) candidate Thounaojam Brinda, who was the Additional Superintendent of Police (Headquarters),is also contesting in the first phase of polling from the Yaiskul constituency.

The BJP, which had secured 21 seats in the 60-member Assembly in the last Assembly polls in 2017 and wrested the power for the first time, stitching together a coalition government with the support of four NPP MLAs, four Naga People’s Front (NPF) members, the lone Trinamool Congress MLA and an Independent member. However, this time the BJP, NPP and the NPF are contesting separately and have put-up candidates against each other.

The NPP, the dominant party of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, has been an ally of the BJP in both the Northeastern states (Meghalaya and Manipur) since 2017, has put up 38 candidates while the BJP fielded in all the 60 seats in the Manipur elections.

Congress, which governed the state for 15 consecutive years (2002-2017) and emerged as the single largest party by securing 28 seats in 2017 poll, this time formed a Manipur Progressive Secular Alliance (MPSA) after forging a pre-poll alliance with four Left parties and Janata Dal-Secular.

The second phase of polling will be held in 22 seats on March 5. Votes will be counted on March 10.