The Telegraph
Friday , March 22 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Third front rising in Manipur

Imphal, March 21: Opposition parties in Manipur have started talks to form a common platform to field consensus candidates without any support from the BJP or the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections to be held next year.

The Manipur People’s Party (MPP), the oldest regional party in the state, and the CPI have started sending feelers to other “like-minded” parties to form a third front to prevent the Congress from retaining the state’s two Lok Sabha seats.

The Congress, which is ruling the state for the third consecutive term, represents both the Inner and Outer Manipur seats in the Lok Sabha as well as the lone Rajya Sabha seat.

The CPI, which shared power with the Congress in the first and second terms of the Secular Progressive Front, parted ways with the Congress as it could not win even a single seat in the last Assembly election held in January last year.

The MPP also could not win any seat in the last Assembly polls, as four of its five sitting MLAs left the party and contested on tickets of other parties.

The BJP’s strength is growing after the return of former Union minister of state for youth affairs and sports Thounaojam Chaoba Singh as the party president recently. But it does not have any representation in the Assembly.

Although the CPI has joined hands with the BJP on several issues like drugs and safeguarding the state’s boundaries, they do not want to share a common platform with the BJP when it comes to elections.

The MPP and the CPI also do not want to go along with the Manipur unit of the Naga People’s Front (NPF).

“We have started informal talks on fielding common candidates with like-minded parties in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. The CPI is more interested in forming a common platform without the Congress and the BJP,” Moirangthem Nara Singh, CPI state secretary said.

Earlier, Okram Joy Singh, a senior MPP leader and veteran parliamentarian, called on non-Congress parties to come together and fight against the Congress.

Leaders of non-Congress parties feel they should come together to fight the Congress as they cannot do so single-handedly.

The BJP is also willing to join hands. Central BJP leaders are regularly visiting Imphal to strengthen the party and chalk out strategy for the national elections.

“It is too early to take a decision on choosing our partners in the Lok Sabha elections. However, our option is always open for common candidates in both the seats,” a BJP leader said.