Gangte finds her feet in Manipur minefield

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By KHELEN THOKCHOM in Imphal
  • Published 11.04.04
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Imphal, April 11: Switching loyalties is considered a must for politicians to survive in the dog-eat-dog politics of Manipur. It is not surprising that Kim Gangte has learnt the tricks of the trade fast.

Gangte, former Lok Sabha MP and the Manipur People’s Party (MPP) candidate for the Outer Manipur parliamentary constituency, was better known as a human rights activist before she started dabbling in electoral politics.

She contested for the first time in the 1998 parliamentary elections and emerged victorious. She used the CPI platform as her political springboard. Though not a hardcore CPI cadre, Gangte was nominated by the party as it was looking for a fresh face with a clean image, acceptable to the voters.

Her Lok Sabha debut did not last long as the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government was voted out in a no-confidence motion. She abstained from voting in the no-confidence motion and this way incurred the wrath of the CPI leadership — both in the state as well as Delhi.

The CPI rejected her request for a party ticket in the 1999 parliamentary elections. But Gangte was in no mood to bid goodbye to politics. So, she just switched side and fought the elections on a Janata Dal (United) ticket. She was defeated by Holkhomang Haokip of the NCP.

After the defeat, Gangte stayed away from active politics for some time. She announced in 2001 that she would devote her time to “social work”. She toured the interior areas in the Outer Manipur constituency, met people and talked about their problems.

She also organised meetings to create awareness, especially among the women, on human rights issues. She is also the general secretary of the Kuki Women Human Rights Network.

The MPP, which is a partner in the Opposition Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA), sacrificed the Inner Manipur parliamentary constituency in favour of its ally, Federal Party of Manipur (FPM). However, DPA candidate Gangte will be locked in a friendly contest with the JD (U) candidate in the Outer seat.

The BJP, which was leading the DPA, has already walked out of the alliance by fielding two candidates in both the constituencies. The Outer seat comprises all the five hill districts and eight Assembly constitu-encies of the Valley distr-icts of Thoubal and Imphal East.

Born on October 30, 1963, at Uyungmakhong village of Moirang under Henglep Assembly constituency in Churachandpur district, Gangte had worked as a college lecturer in English for seven years. After the withdrawal of the candidature of Naga National Party nominee Valley Rose Hungyo, Gangte is the only woman candidate in Manipur in this year’s poll.