Imphal, Sept. 12: Manipur rural body elections will be held in the four valley districts of the state tomorrow amid a daylong strike in the five hill districts to protest alleged inclusion of 15 tribal villages under the panchayat election.
The five hill districts are not included in the panchayat election as they have autonomous district councils.
More than 6.5 lakh voters, including 3.3 lakh women, will exercise their right to franchise for election of 60 zila parishad members, 161 pradhans and 1,515 gram panchayat members in 1,516 polling stations in Imphal West, Imphal East, Thoubal and Bishnupur districts from 7am to 4pm.
Of these seats, one zila parishad, one pradhan and 97 panchayat member candidates were declared elected uncontested.
This is the keenest rural body election in Manipur with candidates spending more money and active campaigning in an unprecedented manner. Clashes and planting of bombs at the gates of houses of candidates marked the run-up to the polls.
Hectic campaigning and huge expenditures by candidates in this round of rural body election are attributed to devolution of power and more development funds for the rural bodies. Polling personnel left this morning with ballot papers to their polling stations from the offices of the deputy commissioners.
The secretary of the state election commission, Th. Chitra Devi, said one or two sections (one section comprises 10 to 12 personnel) of the state armed forces would be deployed at each of the polling stations for smooth conduct of polls.
The Committee for Protection of Tribal Areas has called a daylong strike tomorrow in all the five hill districts to protest alleged inclusion of 15 villages under Chandel, Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Senapati districts in the panchayat election.
“The inclusion of the tribal areas under the panchayat election is a one-sided decision of the state government. The government should withdraw the decision immediately,” R.K. Koba, a leader of a core committee of members of Senapati, Chandel, Ukhrul and Tamenglong autonomous district councils said.
The Kuki Inpi Manipur, Kuki Students’ Organisation, Saikul Area Naga Peoples’ Organisation and the Waiphei Chiefs’ Association also supported the strike.
The state election commission has not commented on allegation of inclusion of hill areas under the zila parishad constituencies.
“The constituencies were decided by the government and we do not have any comment on this. Our duty is only to hold the election,” an official of the commission said.
This is not the first time controversy over the constituencies surfaced. During the six autonomous district council elections people residing in the valley complained against inclusion of their village land under district council elections.