Voting as begun to the crucial Inner Manipur constituency. This constituency covers the valley areas of the trouble torn state, including state capital Imphal.
There are eight candidates in the fray including the sitting Congress MP Th Meinya, former Manipur University Professor R K Ranjan of BJP, former Manipur Rifles commandant S Manaobi of Trinamool Congress, senior CPI leader M Nara and the lone woman candidate Oinam Indira who is contesting as independent.
The Inner Manipur seat had been with Ruling Congress for past 10 years. Today an electorate of 826,755, will decide Congress’s fate in this Congress stronghold which off late have been witnessing air of anti-incumbency.
A major rebel outfit -Manipur Maoist Party – has given the cal to boycott polls thus elaborate security arrangement have been made - altogether 11,713 security personnel including central paramilitary forces would be keeping a very strict vigil today.
Manipur and particularly the Inner seat has seen a multi-cornered campaign this time, something new to Manipur’s political history. Once left in oblivion, this elections are a welcome change for Manipur in many ways.
Most of the national parties are looking towards Manipur, where the Congress had ruled the roost all this while – the Okram Ibobi Singh government has been in power for 12 years and both the lok sabha seats are with Congress.
It was in the 2012 Assembly polls in the state that BJP and Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress chose to fight the Congress. Congress had won the 2012 assembly poll convincingly winning 42 out of the 60 seats.
Trinamool Congress had then sprung surprise by winning seven seats and the Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF) registered victories in four seats of the hill areas of the state.
Eighteen candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha elections in two constituencies of Manipur, records of sorts in the state. The first phase polling for the other seat –Outer Manipur took place on April 9.
In the Inner seat where the Meiteies are majority, Sitting MP Th Meinya of Congress will have to not only fight anti-incumbency but the likes of RK Ranjan from BJP, M Nara of CPI , many say a change is on the cards even in Manipur.
Whether a third front works out nationally, there is the strange third front comprising of several smaller in Manipur shaping up. They are all desperate, leaving no stone unturned to make their presence known even compromising on the traditional ideologies and norms of the respective parties.
It is highly unusual to see the CPI and NCP or even Trinamool Congress working closely together to put up an opposition combine against Congress and BJP candidates. This has exactly happened in Manipur.
Political parties that were unheard of have suddenly cropped up like Jai Mahabharat Party and All India Democratic Front. Even the Aam Admi Party (AAP) is contesting, and it might cut away a chunk of Congress' urban votes.
The voters have enjoyed high voltage campaigning the national political parties , the rat race between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi to campaign in the state and score Political brownies.