Bypoll Campaigning to four Assembly constituencies for November 7 has gained momentum in Manipur. The major players are the ruling BJP, the opposition Congress and the National People’s Party, a coalition partner.
Chief Minister N. Biren said on Monday, “The BJP-led coalition government will wipe out all tears of the have-nots. The coalition government was saved by six Congress MLAs who had tendered resignations from the party. It is in recognition of their support that some former Congress MLAs were inducted into the Ministry.”
Campaigning for the BJP candidate of the Wangoi constituency, Oinam Lukhoi, Mr. Biren said people should decide whom to vote for in the constituency. Though he had resigned from the Congress, Mr. Lukhoi was now made Cabinet Minister. “Should people vote for a candidate who may never become a minister, forgetting that the BJP candidate is now already the Agriculture Minister,” he asked. Mr. Biren said some opposition members were making personal attacks on Mr. Lukhoi.
The Chief Minister said his government was trying to stamp out corruption. He said, “Several persons were killed in the past in controversial encounters. But there have been no such killings under the present ministry.”
Deputy Chief Minister Yumnam Joykumar of the NPP said the party candidate would defeat the BJP in Wangoi. He however said the NPP would not withdraw support to the coalition ministry. The four NPP MLAs were made Cabinet Ministers. Recently two Ministers were sacked. Despite the intervention of national NPP president Conard Sangma, who is the Chief Minister of Meghalaya, the two Ministers were not reinducted.
Addressing a campaign meeting for Abdul Nasir, a former Congress MLA, who along with five others had resigned, Mr. Biren said people should stop taking bribes from candidates in elections if they wanted to check corruption. The Chief Minister said that during its three and a half years of rule, the coalition government had implemented many developmental works which the Congress could not do. Referring to the ban imposed on Mr. Nasir and his supporters from entering some villages in the Lilong constituency, Mr. Biren said if the ban was not lifted the government would have to use force to ensure unrestricted entry for electioneering.
Reacting to Mr. Biren’s charge, Congress MLA and spokesperson K. Ranjit said, “Though some other BJP members may not be aware of the developmental works done by the Congress, at least Mr. Biren should know all details. Mr. Biren had been a Cabinet Minister or chairman of various corporations and boards in the 15 years.” It was only a few months ahead of the last Assembly elections that Mr. Biren had defected to the BJP.
Congress candidate in Wangoi, Salam Joy, said some community centres were constructed while he was MLA. But the present government had constructed just the verandahs of these centres to “inaugurate them as the BJP achievements.” Congress leaders charged that for the BJP, political power was more important than the lives of people. They said there was a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. They claimed that there was no social distancing in the election meetings addressed by BJP leaders