Blockade deals a blow on poll campaign
Source: The Sangai Express
Imphal, February 08 2017:
Election campaigns in Manipur have been severely affected by the United Naga Council (UNC)'s indefinite economic blockade being imposed since November 1, 2016 over the new district creation issue.
Scarcity of fuel is really hitting hard on poll campaigns.
Though polls are just a month away, the UNC's economic blockade has come to dominate the household talk of the people of Manipur these days and not the Assembly election.
Usually during election rallies and meetings in Manipur, it is the political parties and the candidates that provide transports to the public.
Especially in the hills, the more the number of vehicles the larger is the size of gatherings.
Feasting has also come to be a must item in every political meeting or campaign programme in the hill districts.
With the sky rocketing prices of commodities and the depletion of stocks due to the economic blockade election meetings have been tremendously affected.
This scenario has also contributed to the slow pace of electioneering in the State this time.
In the valley, the tension still simmers due to the district creation issue.
Civil society organizations and pubic leaders are engaging more in dealing with the prevailing situation than on the Assembly election.
The February 7 decision of the 'Presidential Council meeting' of the UNC to continue the agitation has changed the whole mood in the valley.
After the February 3 'tripartite talk' in New Delhi involving the Government of India, the Manipur Government and the United Naga Council, there were speculations in the media that the UNC would lift the economic blockade after its February 7 meeting.
As the UNC is determined not to bend or succumb to any pressure or allurement policy of the Government but "to continue to fight against the insidious design of grabbing our land on the pretext of administrative convenience till the same is withdrawn," the situation is not going to get better soon.
On February 7, the UNC had resolved that "the Nagas would also reject and fight against any other moves that would affect our land and identity" .
Given this highly charged atmosphere, one can expect for the worse even to the extent of affecting the whole process of the ongoing Assembly election process if the trend is allowed to continue further.
Meanwhile, analyst BB Sharma said "it has become an issue now whether or not the State Government would be able to complete the election preparations in several districts" .
A full-team of Election Commission of India (ECI) headed by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi was reportedly planning to visit poll-bound Manipur to review the electioneering process.
But the proposed visit of the team is still unclear indicating that the ECI is likely to conduct the election despite the difficult situation facing the State.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had earlier expressed its concern over the 'inability' of the Okram Ibobi Singh Government to end the prolonged economic blockade while seeking intervention of ECI in opening the blockade ahead of the election.
UNC has imposed the blockade on the two National Highways in Manipur after the Manipur Government planned to grant district status to Sadar Hills and Jiribam subdivisions.
But the State Government went ahead with its plan and created seven new districts including Kangpokpi (Sadar Hills) and Jiribam pushing the Naga body to intensify the agitation.