'Resurgent' MPP out to dent Cong fortress

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  • Published 17.12.08

Imphal, Dec. 16: The Congress, which heads the Secular Progressive Front coalition, is in for a tough fight from a “resurgent” Manipur Peoples Party (MPP), the oldest regional party in the state, in the Moirang Assembly byelection.

The polling is slated for December 27 at the constituency in Bishnupur district.

The Congress is fielding Mairembam Prithiviraj Singh, a political greenhorn against “seasoned” candidate Hemam Bira Singh of the MPP.

While Prithiviraj Singh is the son of Congressman Manindra Singh, whose demise in October led to the holding of the byelection, Bira Singh is the son of Nilamani Singh, who was a founder member of the MPP and served the party in the capacity of president in the seventies.

“Barack Obama brought about a change in America. We can also bring about a change in Manipur,” said Thounaoba Chaoba Singh, a former Union minister of state for youth affairs and sport.

Moirang is traditionally a stronghold of the Congress where the MPP managed to win the seat twice in the past. Bira Singh himself contested twice on MPP tickets. In the last election, he came second.

Though Prithiviraj is contesting the election for the first time, he is no stranger to politics, having grown up with it. His grandfather Koireng Singh was the chief minister of Manipur in the mid-sixties.

However, the MPP with support from the BJP, is hoping to put up a stiff fight in the bypoll.

“It is a fight for a change in the system, administration and politics that could lead to better living conditions and opportunities for the people. It is a fight between people versus an anti-people system,” Okram Joy Singh, senior leader and one of the best parliamentarians of the state, said.

In the run-up to the next parliamentary elections, both the MPP and Congress are competing for holding the maximum number of political conferences. “We know the fight for Moirang is tough. But our rival will have to put up a good fight to defeat us,” Chandramani Singh said.

On the other hand, chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh shrugged off the “threat”, saying no party could rule Manipur better than the Congress. He also promised better infrastructure in Moirang.

However, the MPP would stand to gain from the BJP support. Two former chief ministers R.K. Dorendro Singh and Wahengbam Nipamacha Singh had joined the BJP recently. While the BJP does not have any MLA, the MPP has five members.

While the support by coalition partner CPI to the Congress is a foregone conclusion, the Opposition NCP is expected to vote for the MPP.

The state NCP president R.B. Koijam, however, said his party had decided not to join the campaigns of either side.