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Kuki group to boycott Congress in election

Imphal, March 30: A Kuki militant group has decided to boycott the Congress in both the Inner and Outer Manipur seats.

The Kuki National Army (India) in a statement issued to the local media yesterday announced its boycott of the party, accusing the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre of fragmenting the Kuki community.

Stating that peaceful co-existence among the Kuki people was “demolished” by the Centre, information and publicity secretary of the outfit, Barak Kuki, said the group would not support the Congress in Lok Sabha polls.

“The Congress government has now become the enemy of Kuki people,” the statement said.

Sources said the outfit was operating in Myanmar and Kuki-dominated areas mostly in the southern parts of the state and are considered a strong group. The statement did not elaborate on how the Kuki people were divided.

More than 20 Kuki militant groups currently have a suspension of operations agreement with the Centre and Manipur government but the KNA (I) is not among signatories of the peace agreement.

Reacting to the boycott call, deputy chief minister and Manipur PCC president Gaikhangam today said it would not cause any harm to the Congress or the election process in Manipur.

“I don’t think there will be any problem because of the group’s boycott call,” Gaikhangam, who is also home minister, told reporters on the sidelines of an election meeting at Thangmeiband locality here today.

Gaikhangam said the Election Commission and the state election authorities had set up elaborate security arrangements to ensure trouble-free polling.

Outer Manipur will go to polls on April 9 while the Inner constituency will vote on April 17. Sitting MP Thangso Baite of the Congress is seeking re-election from the Outer seat, while another sitting MP, Thokchom Meinya Singh, is seeking to retain the Inner seat.

“There are hyper-sensitive, sensitive and normal polling stations. According to the sensitivity tag of a particular booth, security cover would be provided to ensure free and fair polling in both the constituencies. There is no reason to worry about the boycott,” Gaikhangam said.

Official sources said the Centre had provided 40 companies of paramilitary forces for polling in Manipur.

Kuki Inpi Saikul Gamkai, a Kuki group, and Saikul Area Naga People’s Organisation, will also boycott the Congress in Saikul Assembly constituency, alleging the Congress-led state government was “indifferent” to the grievances of the people.