Campaigning in hills complicated by ‘UG diktats’ and claims of ‘UG support’
Source: The Imphal Free Press

Imphal, February18: The interference of underground elements in electioneering in the hill districts for the second phase of the Assembly elections, particularly in Tamenglong, Senapati and Ukhrul districts, have evoked considerable apprehension among the general public.

Instruction reportedly issued by a particular underground organization, which has disavowed all interest in ‘Indian elections’ to the village authorities of various villages in these three districts, warning against voting for candidates who had opposed the extension of the NSCN (IM) ceasefire to Manipur has cast a shadow over campaigning, according to reports reaching here.

One such circular was reportedly issued to villages in the Noney and Haochong area in Tamenglong district by the ‘operation commander of the GPRN on January 31 last, warning Naga civilians against extending support to or voting for candidates who had opposed the extension of the ceasefire to Manipur.

On the other hand, the central administrative officer, Zeliangrong region, GPRN, had issued an order on January 26 directing ‘national workers’ to refrain from participation and involvement in the Manipur Assembly elections directly or indirectly ‘which threatens the commitment of the GPRN’.

The order had warned that stern action would be taken against defaulters.

Tamenglong district have three Assembly constituencies – Tamei, Tamenglong and Nungba, a total electorate of 62,900 and altogether 10 candidates to choose from.

In Tamei, the contest is shaping up to be a close one between Z Mangaibou of the INC and Athuan Abonmei of the BJP.

Mangaibou defeated Abonmei by about 5000 votes in the last elections, but the latter, it is believed, may be able to close the gap.

In Tamenglong A/c, the main fight is expected to be between Khathuanang Pamei of the Congress and Samuel Jendai of the Federal Party of Manipur.

Jendai had defeated Pamei by around 3000 votes in the last elections.

FPM strongman Prof Gangmumei Kamei is facing off once again INC’s Gaikhangam in Nungba A/c.Prof Kamei beat Gaikhangam by barely a thousand votes last time.

Ukhrul district, with three Assembly constituencies – Phungyar, Chingai and Ukhrul, has a total electorate of 84288, and a total of 17 candidates in the fray.

43-Phungyar A/c remains the stronghold of Manipur’s longest serving chief minister, Rishang Keishing, still representing the INC, but he is facing a stiff challenge from Wungnaoshang Keishing of the MSCP.

K Somi of the FPM, N Solomon of the BJP and Samata candidate Stephen Angkang have also built up strength in some pockets.

Sources from Rishang’s camp also claim that some underground elements are campaigning actively against Rishang.

In Ukhrul A/c, BJP representative Danny Shaiza, son of former chief minister Yangmasho Shaiza faces former MLA AS Arthur.

Shaiza defeated Arthur by over 6000 votes in the last elections.

In Chingai A/c, the FPM’s Dr Kasim Ruivah is defending his seat against challenges from RN Chihanpam of the BJP, and David NK Shimray of the Samata Party.