Imphal, Oct. 16: In a surprise move, former Union minister of state for youth affairs and sports Thounaojam Chaoba Singh today announced that he would not contest in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“Many (people) have been expecting me to contest in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from the Inner Manipur constituency. Here, today, I am announcing that I will not contest this time,” Chaoba Singh, who is also the president of the BJP’s Manipur unit, told The Telegraph.
He said the BJP would contest in both the Outer and Inner Manipur seats and there were several party ticket aspirants.
“We are in the process of selecting the candidates. We will announce names of the candidates at the appropriate time. It is too early to disclose the names of the likely candidates as election dates have not been announced. But one thing is clear, I will not be in the race,” Chaoba Singh said.
He said efforts were on to gain support of some of the smaller political parties.
Attempts by non-Congress parties to field consensus candidates have not borne fruit as some parties, like the Trinamul Congress and Left, have decided to field their own candidates.
Currently, the Congress represents both the Inner and Outer Manipur seats in the Lok Sabha. Keeping in view the growing strength of the BJP in the state, many people had expected Chaoba Singh to contest this time.
Chaoba Singh unsuccessfully contested in the last state Assembly elections from Nambol Assembly constituency in Bishnupur district. L. Loken Singh of the Congress retained the constituency by defeating Chaoba Singh.
Though the party earlier named Gangmumei Kamei, a former minister as the party’s candidate in the tribal-dominated Outer Manipur seat, Chaoba Singh said the names of candidates would be announced formally later.
Party sources said Gangmumei’s candidature was as good as finalised.
R.K. Ranjan Singh, environmentalist and former director of the College Development Council of Manipur University, is among the frontrunners for the Inner Manipur parliamentary seat. Ranjan might get the ticket, a party source said.
The BJP has already started its election campaign by criticising the Okram Ibobi Singh government as a “complete failure” in every available forum.
The party will begin a three-day political training programme at the party head office here tomorrow.
The training programme will also mark the commencement of election campaign with S.S. Ahluwallia, chairman of the BJP’s Northeast election campaign committee, addressing the opening programme on the subject “Mission 272+ Lok Sabha election 2014”.