Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma displays a local newspaper during the news conference in Imphal on Monday. Telegraph picture
Imphal, March 6: The Congress and the BJP have interpreted Saturday's large voter turnout in the first phase of polls as the people's support for their respective parties.
While Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said "angry people turned up in large numbers to throw out dictator Okram Ibobi Singh", Congress president T.N. Haokip claimed that the people "turned out to defeat divisive forces (BJP)."
Thirty-eight constituencies in six districts went to the polls on Saturday and recorded a turnout of 86.6 per cent. The campaign for the second phase for 22 constituencies in 10 districts on Wednesday ended at 3pm today.
"The large turnout sent out a loud message that they came out to throw out a dictator. The people are angry. When people are angry with the government of the day, they come out to vote against it. The same thing had happened in Assam," Himanta said here, rounding off the election campaign.
Reacting to this, Haokip claimed that the people turned up to defeat the BJP for its "evil games of communal divide and restriction on people's food habits among communal activities".
Both the parties expressed confidence that they would get at least 40 seats out of the 60.
Himanta was so confident of winning a majority that he announced that all the prospective party candidates should come to come to the party head-office here on March 12, a day after the counting day, to choose their chief minister.
Making an attempt to woo the voters ahead of the second phase, Himanta made a slew of promises.
"If voted to power, the BJP will create a different kind of Manipur where only development takes place. The BJP government in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh will help a BJP government in Manipur on a national forum for more development funds," Himanta promised.
He also promised to do away with bandhs and blockades by enacting a "strongest legislation", which will make sponsors of such blockades pay from their own pockets for the losses incurred.
A CBI probe into the cases of 1,528 alleged fake encounter killings in Manipur and a special court would be set up for speedy trial, he said.
Maintaining that the Narendra Modi government had failed to improve the condition of the state's supply lines of National Highway-2 (Imphal-Dimapur road) and National Highway-37, Haokip said the Congress would approach the World Bank and other international financial institutions for highway development funds.
"Beware of the BJP. It only makes false promises. After Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP is trying to destroy Manipur on communal lines. The blockade has been instigated by the BJP," Haokip alleged.