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Cong dismisses NaMo effect

- Manipur unit of party faces opposition from minority organisations

Imphal/Guwahati, Feb. 5: The Manipur PCC has shrugged off the scheduled visit by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to Imphal to campaign for the party, as an “exercise in futility.”

Modi, who is also the Gujarat chief minister, will arrive in Imphal, the first leg of his Northeast tour, on February 8. He will address a BJP rally at Langjing Achouba ground, 5km west of Imphal city, before leaving for Guwahati for another round of rally the same day.

“Narendra Modi or his Namo chai will not have any impact in Manipur during the Lok Sabha elections. It is an exercise in futility,” deputy chief minister and PCC president Gaikhangam told The Telegraph.

The BJP leaders in Manipur are working overtime to make the visit a success by gathering “largest ever crowd” in an election rally in Manipur. The BJP is constructing two huge gates to welcome the BJP leader along the route from Tulihal airport to the rally venue.

The party faces twin hurdles in making the rally a success. The first is the boycott of the visit by some Muslim organisations, accusing Modi of being anti-minority.

The Manipur unit of Jamiat-Ulema-i-Hind and Muslim Social Workers’ Union had already announced the boycott. Another organisation, the United Minority and Students’ Federation of Northeast, today announced its decision to boycott Modi during his Manipur visit.

Another threat is a general strike called by the United Revolutionary Front, a militant group, on the day of the visit to boycott Modi. The outfit alleged that the BJP was one of the national parties that suppressed the people of Manipur.

“Modi is coming with a new hope for a new Manipur. All the progressive people of the state should welcome Modi to make Manipur participate in a change for the better,” R.K. Ranjan Singh, a BJP leader said.

Singh said the very fact that Modi had chosen Imphal to kick off his Northeast campaign was enough proof that he has taken a very keen interest in the development of the state.

BJP leaders are concerned that if the general strike called by the militant group becomes effective, the turnout at the rally may not reach their expectations because of lack of transport facilities.

“People have faith and trust in the Congress. They have seen that the progress made during the past one decade under the leadership of Okram Ibobi Singh was much faster than that made by the state since it attained statehood in 1972. We do not have to work extra for the election,” Gaikhangam said.

He expressed confidence that the Congress could retain both the Lok Sabha seats in Manipur.

BJP procession

BJP members in Guwahati today distributed around 4,000 cups of tea and leaflets during a procession organised as part of their programme to invite people to Modi’s rally on Saturday.

Today’s procession, initiated by the party councillor of GMC, Bijuli Kalita, began from Jyoti Nagar and covered around 30km. “We distributed cups of tea and leaflets to invite people of the city to Modi’s programme,” Kalita said.

Massive arrangements are being made for the rally to be held here at Khanapara ground. The rally will be used to launch the party’s Lok Sabha campaign in the state, which has 14 seats of which the BJP has four.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi responded to the Modi rally by stating that he, too, would hold a rally on empowerment of youth and women here on February 16. “We will respond through votes.” Gogoi said Modi was trying to project himself as a one-man show. “Senior leaders such as L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley have become insignificant. Such dictatorial attitude is not good. He (Modi) can do anything to capture power,” he said.