INDIA bloc fields candidates for Manipur’s 2 Lok Sabha seats

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The INDIA bloc on Friday announced that Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Professor Akoijam Bimol and former MLA Alfred K Arthur, both from the Congress, have been fielded as the alliance’s candidates from the Inner and Outer Manipur Lok Sabha seats, respectively.

The decision was reached following extensive deliberations among the representatives of 10 political parties at Congress Bhawan in Imphal.

Akoijam is known for his academic perspectives on the violence that erupted in May last year, earning him popularity in the state. Former MLA Arthur hails from the Tangkhul Naga-dominated Ukhrul district.

The primary objective behind the INDIA bloc is to defeat the BJP and “restore democracy”, especially in Manipur, which has been engulfed in ethnic violence since May last year.

There are 10 participating parties in the INDIA bloc in Manipur. These include the Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (CPI), Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), All India Forward Bloc, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Shiv Sena (UBT), and the Revolutionary Socialist Party Manipur.

However, it was observed that representatives from the CPI and JD-U were absent from the press conference held to announce the common candidates. The absence raised questions about the unity and consensus within the INDIA bloc in Manipur.

Despite the initial endorsement by the CPI of the alliance’s decision, the party had previously announced L Sotinkumar as its candidate for the Inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat. While the nomination filing is still pending, the party has sought time to re-consider its candidate in alignment with the bloc’s common agenda.

Former Manipur Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Okram Ibobi Singh emphasised the collective sacrifice made by the parties in forgoing their individual candidates to prioritise defeating the BJP. “The overarching goal is to save democracy,” he said.

Stating that the CPI had endorsed the INDIA bloc candidates and sought time to reconsider its candidate, Singh said, “It is believed that the CPI under a common agenda, and with a secular and federal structure, will surely re-consider revoking its announced candidate.”

Manipur Congress president K Meghachandra said the election manifesto of the common candidates would mirror the manifesto previously published by the INDIA bloc, thereby ensuring a cohesive and united front against the BJP.

On the other hand, the CPI has offered to support Arthur, the common candidate of the INDIA bloc for the Outer Manipur seat. The party is yet to take a call on withdrawing its previously announced candidate for the Inner Manipur seat.

Elections in Manipur will be conducted in two phases, with the Inner Manipur seat going to polls on April 19, along with at least 15 assembly segments of Outer Manipur. Thirteen assembly segments of Outer Manipur will go to polls on April 26.

Votes will be counted on June 4.

(with inputs from PTI)

Published By:

Prateek Chakraborty

Published On:

Mar 23, 2024

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