All eyes are on Manipur today after a high-octane poll campaign set the stage for the first phase of Assembly elections in the state where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking to retain power while the Congress is pinning hope on its six-party coalition to oust the Biren Singh government.
Elections for the 60-member Manipur Assembly will take place in two phases on 28 February and 5 March. As many as 38 seats will go to the polls in the first phase while voting in 22 constituencies will take place in the second phase.
On the last day of the campaign for the first phase, BJP leader and Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh took a part in a door-to-door campaign at Patsoi constituency in Imphal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, CM Biren Singh, BJP national president JP Nadda among others addressed rallies for the BJP in the state.
The BJP formed the government in Manipur in 2017 with the support of the National People's Party (NPP), Naga People's Front (NPF) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). However, this time the BJP decided to go solo and is contesting all 60 seats alone.
On the other hand, Congress has formed an alliance of six political parties and named it Manipur Progressive Secular Alliance (MPSA). The coalition partners in MPSA include Congress, Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist), Forward Bloc, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Janata Dal (Secular).
In its election manifesto for Manipur, the BJP promised preservation of the rights of the indigenous people, two extra LPG cylinders, and free electric scooty to college going girls among others. The Congress manifesto promised to bring Manipur Cultural Diversity Policy, provide free critical medical treatment for children, creation of Manipur regiment and request the Centre to repeal AFSPA.
As per the Manipur Chief Electoral Officer's website. the final photo electoral rolls of all 60 Assembly constituencies were published on 5 January, 2022, by the concerned Electoral Registration Officers (EROs). As per the data, there are over 20 lakh (20,91,398) voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.
There are 9,85,119 male, 10,49,639 female and 208 Transgender electors. The number of PwD electors stands at 14565, while the number of 80+ electors is 41867, as per the CEO, Manipur.
The total number of polling stations in the state is 2,959. A total of 1099 polling locations and 763 polling locations have been identified as "vulnerable and critical".
In the 2017 Manipur Assembly elections, Congress emerged as the single largest party winning 28 seats followed by the BJP which settled with 21 seats. The National People's Party (NPP) and Naga People's Front (NPF) bagged four seats each while the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) managed to secure only one constituency. BJP bagged 36.28 per cent vote share while Congress received 35.11 per cent of the total vote.
Later, BJP stitched a coalition with the NPP, NPF and LJP to form the government under the leadership of Biren Singh.