Manipur: BJP announces candidates for 60 Assembly seats
The ruling BJP in Manipur announced candidates for all the 60 Assembly seats on Sunday, ending speculation about last-minute pre-poll alliances and conveying its confidence about winning the upcoming state elections on its own steam.
Currently, the BJP leads a government in Manipur in coalition with the National People’s Party (NPP), Naga People’s Party (NPF), Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Independents.
Union minister Bhupender Yadav, the BJP’s man in charge of the Manipur elections — to be held on February 27 and March 3 — released the candidate list in Delhi.
He said the party expected to win a two-thirds majority riding the people’s faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for the Northeast and chief minister N. Biren Singh’s efforts towards peace and development.
Singh tweeted that the BJP would win an absolute majority.
In 2017, too, the BJP had contested all 60 seats but won only 21. It, however, succeeded in forming the government in the state for the first time with help from other parties and Independents. Over the years, the number of BJP members in the House has risen to 31 following court rulings and defections.
Although BJP campaigners had been saying the party would contest all the 60 seats, Sunday’s announcement left most people surprised because there had been talk of a pre-poll alliance, especially with the NPF.
The BJP’s candidate list was supposed to be announced early last week but got delayed because multiple aspirants – including defectors from other parties -- were vying for some of the seats.
A BJP source said the party had conducted at least three surveys to assess the prospective candidates’ chances of victory.
Security was beefed up in and around party offices and sensitive areas before the announcement of the candidate list, lest there be trouble from the supporters of those who had missed out.
Protests were held at Sagolband constituency in Imphal West district and some other places.
Those denied BJP tickets might well look for fresh options, with the other main players, the Congress and the NPP, yet to announce their full candidate lists. The NPF will announce its list on February 2. The JDU too has emerged as an option, a source said.
Sources said the BJP had included 12 new faces and dropped 3 sitting MLAs. Three women have been nominated along with two former IAS officers.
State BJP vice-president Chingangbam Chidananda Singh told The Telegraph that the candidate list had sent out a “strong and clear” message that “we have no pre-poll alliance and are sure of winning absolute majority on our own”.
He said the party was on “Mission 40” — targeting a tally of 40 seats using the campaign planks of “development and peaceful coexistence”.
“Although there is no official chief ministerial candidate, we are fighting the polls under the leadership of Biren Singhji and state unit president (Adhikarimayum) Sharda Deviji at the state level, and Modiji, (Union home minister) Amit Shahji and (BJP national president) J.P. Naddaji at the Centre,” Chidananda said.
Chief minister Biren Singh has been re-nominated from his stronghold of Heingang, which he had won by over 10,000 votes in 2017.