Elections to the Manipur Legislative Assembly (2007-2022)
Some personal memories and observations (Part 2)

Sanjoy Akoijam *

 Polling for the first phase of 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election ::  04th March 2017
Polling for 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election in March 2017 :: Pix - Lamdamba Oinam

The intervening period between 2012 and 2017 was a tumultuous period in National politics. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) scored an unprecedented victory and swept to power at the Centre after the Lok Sabha Election of 2014. Manipur defied the “Tsu-Namo” that year and managed to send two Congress MPs to Parliament.

But it was only a matter of time before we would be engulfed by the winds of political change, for as the saying goes “When it rains in Delhi, the umbrellas come up in Imphal”.

A prelude to what awaited us in 2017 was seen in 2015 when the BJP scored handsome victories in bye-elections to two Assembly seats in the valley region. The BJP also fared very well in the local body elections of 2015 and 2016. Despite their impressive performances, few imagined then that they would overthrow the 15 year old Congress regime in 2017.

The 2017 State legislative Assembly election soon came knocking on our doors. This time, BJP tickets were in high demand. The party campaigned aggressively, no holds barred. Central party leaders flew in and out of Manipur at rates never seen before. The Congress Party was in no hurry to surrender too.

Ruling a volatile State like Manipur for 3 consecutive terms through thick and thin was no mean feat. The BJP had its task cut out, and they worked quite efficiently too. For the first time, a political party harnessed the power of social media, and media as a whole, in an Assembly election in Manipur.

An innovative campaign song “BJP gi Thambal, Modiji gi Thambal” was at the forefront of the party’s campaign, coupled with frequent large front page newspaper ads that chided the 15 year old Congress regime and promised a broad variety of positive changes if they were voted to power. The Congress did their best to counter the BJP media storm, but the saffron camp seemed to be always a step ahead.

However, all the hard work the BJP did was almost derailed by the issue of disgruntled ticket contenders. There were many Constituencies in which there were multiple BJP ticket aspirants. Some graciously accepted the ticket decisions of the party high command; others were not so easy to give up.

There was open dissent within the State unit, but the simmering tensions cooled down to a great extent before the election. There were contests for Congress tickets too, although not at rates seen with the BJP.

Those intending candidates who did not manage to secure Congress or BJP tickets chose to migrate to other parties, like the National People’s Party (NPP) for instance. It was soon clear however that the main contests in a majority of seats would be between the Congress and the BJP. In the Naga-inhabited hill regions, the NPF gave both parties a run for their money.

The run-up to the 2017 election was far from rosy. CM Ibobi and his team came under fire in Ukhrul district where they had gone to inaugurate certain projects. Economic blockades and counter economic blockades on the National Highways dominated news headlines. The swift creation of 7 new districts in December 2016 by the Ibobi administration calmed many sections of people but it also set off a whole new cycle of violence and tension.

The days leading up to Christmas and New Year celebrations were marred by a growing anti-tribal sentiment in the valley region: set off by disdain of the economic blockade and compounded by several other factors. There was even an internet ban of a few days to cool down tensions. In short, it was not the ideal environment for election related activities.

Personally, I did not experience much of the high voltage atmosphere prior to the election of 2017 as I was not at home. I was in my last year of school and staying in the school hostel, and there we had little access to the happenings of the outside world. Newspapers were our main source of news.

However, some of my hostel mates were also interested in election related stuff, and we had occasional discussions regarding the same. My maternal grandfather was gearing up for his third election. I visited him a few times, when I got the opportunity to go home. I was able to join him and his team one Sunday morning for door-to-door campaigning.

Also, I attended one booth level meeting of his on a cold winter evening in January (it fortunately happened to be at the house of one of my school teachers). This time, my grandfather’s opposition was stiffer.

He decided to remain with the Congress, unlike many of his colleagues who switched over to the BJP. The stage was set for a showdown between him and his younger, more energised opponent whom he had bested in the previous election.

The absence of a strong third candidate meant that it was akin to a straight fight. Meanwhile in our own Constituency, our confident MLA was up against the same rival from 5 years ago. The only difference was that his rival had switched from the Trinamool Congress to the BJP. There were 3-4 BJP ticket contenders in our Constituency (including one uncle from our locality), but the party put their faith in him, who lost out very narrowly in the last election.

There was a fear that the elections might be delayed owing to the law and order situation in the hill regions. However, it was conducted on time in two phases in March 2017. My grandfather’s Constituency and ours voted on the same day. It was quite uneventful, except for a weak earthquake early in the morning when voting had just begun. It proved to be a sign of things to come !

After spending some time in our locality, my father and I drove around various Constituencies in Imphal area, to see the progress in polling. I also spent some time at my grandfather’s house that day.

Results were declared just a week later, and it was a fractured mandate. The Congress fell 3 seats short of a simple majority, while the BJP picked up an impressive 21 seats with an overall vote share more than the Congress. Both my grandfather and our local MLA who were Congress candidates lost by a fair margin. The Lotus had well and truly bloomed in the two Constituencies.

The rest of the seats in the Assembly were shared between parties like the NPP, NPF, LJP, Trinamool, etc. These smaller parties became the kingmakers in the end. I think there is no need to mention the epic game of political chess that unfolded in the 3-4 days after the declaration of results in 2017 !

I shall mention only the end result of it all – the BJP’s Shri Nongthombam Biren Singh in the CM’s chair, as the leader of a shaky coalition Government. 5 years have passed, and we have witnessed all sorts of political drama that are still fresh in public memory. Who will not remember the political twists and turns witnessed in the run-up and the aftermath of the 2020 Rajya Sabha election ?

Anyway, we are once again at the threshold of yet another legislative Assembly election. The race for the BJP ticket is even more intense this time around, and it is not surprising as they have consolidated their position quite well since 2017. The Congress’ influence has reduced significantly, after a mass exodus of several leaders to other parties, especially to the BJP.

Despite that, the Grand Old Party of India is still a force to be reckoned with. The Conrad Sangma-led NPP has also built up strength in the past few years. Although they are coalition partners with the BJP, there have been many instances where skirmishes between the two have gone public. There will be a good number of Constituencies where the BJP and the NPP will square up against each other.

It has been observed that there are several strong intending candidates opting for parties like the NPP, NPF, JD(U), etc. The talk in political circles is that it is better to contest and win as candidates of smaller parties (especially parties that are allied with the BJP at the Centre), considering the kingmaker role that they played in the last election in 2017.

Some opinion polls have predicted a simple majority for the BJP, but it is likely that the 2022 verdict will once again give us a fractured mandate. We will have to wait and watch. Even parties like the RPI (A) and Apna Dal (S)- both part of the NDA- who have limited influence in their own home States are active in Manipur this time.

COVID-19 and its various variants have made life hell for all of us for two years now, and it will have a bearing on the upcoming elections too- considering the Omicron variant’s rapid spread. Unfortunate pre-poll violence has also reared its ugly head on multiple occasions too.

On a personal note, my maternal grandfather has retired from active politics. His Constituency is witnessing an epic battle between multiple candidates this time. Meanwhile, it will be a similar interesting battle in our Constituency too. As for me, I am waiting eagerly to vote for the first time.

* Sanjoy Akoijam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on February 02 2022.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Wakhom Leikai Lairembi Haraoba #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Shija celebrates 26 years of surgery
  • Webinar : "Computing Trends in AI"
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • New MAHUD for a new Imphal City
  • R&D initiatives of Ministry of Info Tech
  • PMFBY - Every cloud has a silver lining
  • Banking on Modi to eradicate plastic malaise
  • One step down from Greater Lim ?
  • Flood Watch: Nambul Turel [18 May] :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Ambassadors for Christ
  • "... where women are not respected"
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Nursing as a career choice
  • Conquest of the last frontier
  • Dry Manipur among top 5 liquor states!
  • Scoring high on liquor consumption
  • Flood Watch: Imphal Turel [17 May] :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 17 May : Govt of Manipur
  • World hypertension day : 17th May 2022
  • Taking advantage of dying sedition law
  • Market innovations & vertical integration
  • Soram Oscar: Mr India Intl Tourism 2022
  • Cyber Security Lecture at Tamenglong
  • Involve village chief in Save Singda Movement
  • Reaching out to SC Jamir
  • Jalakeli Offering @ Govindajiu :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 May : Govt of Manipur
  • On 200th Anniversary of MK Binodini Devi
  • East Timor : Licypriya Kangujam invited
  • Carbon Sequestration in Dailong Site #2
  • Semiotic interpretations of traffic policing
  • Citrus Marcoptera: Rare Citrus species in NE
  • Same old healthcare issues for new minister
  • Rain : Bringing out the dirt of Imphalites
  • Art Exhibition @Imphal Art #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2022 #2: Gallery
  • Soil rejuvenation through plants
  • Harrowing memories of a blast victim
  • Pristine Death :: Poem
  • Odisha File
  • Anti-poppy vows: Govt shouldnt be taken...
  • After more than 2 decades of talks
  • River & River Based Communities
  • COVID-19 Status 14 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Second National Lok Adalat
  • Manipur Cabinet: Blurry representation
  • Tips for summer party make up
  • Harvesting Fest of Tarao #4 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 13 May : Govt of Manipur
  • The USP of Churachandpur
  • Pranks unloaded: From fiction to mundanity
  • Radio comes to our rescue in pandemic
  • 3rd North-East Foodtech begins
  • Irreparable damage done to environment
  • Promotion of nurseries for plantation crop #2
  • Issues staring at the face of Manipur
  • Yaoshang Thabal Competition #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 May : Govt of Manipur
  • International Nurses Day 2022
  • Carbon Sequestration in Dailong Site #1
  • Various voices on reduced areas of AFSPA
  • IBSD, Imphal signed MoU with CSIR
  • Stay on sedition case smack on political elite
  • Identifying a district with one group ?
  • Kakwa Lairembi Haraoba #1 :: Gallery
  • Understanding Environmental Problem
  • Pre Recruitment Training at Keithelmanbi
  • Three rain catchers feted
  • How India is empowering women...
  • War-era bridges amid development rhetoric
  • Aerial route over heart of Imphal ?
  • SN Chand: The father of Manipuri cinema #1
  • COVID-19 Status 10 May : Govt of Manipur
  • NPF Kohima consultative meeting
  • Market creating innovation & business model
  • The element of surprise
  • 3rd North-East Foodtech at Guwahati
  • Growing support to 'war on drugs' mission
  • Backing the War on Drugs call
  • Mao-Imphal Market @ Kabo Leikai :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 09 May : Govt of Manipur
  • We live in the best of times to preach
  • Mixed Marriages & our Heritage !
  • Review Meeting on National Lok Adalat
  • Road blocking for everything
  • Promotion of nurseries for fruits & crop
  • Cong vigil essential to expose Govt
  • Thangjing Hill : Mischievous restrictions
  • Student appearing HSLC Exam #3 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Workshop with Vice-Chancellors of NE
  • BJP's major challenge in Nagaland - Church
  • Motherhood : A symbol of Love
  • Song of spring :: Poem
  • Mother's Day at Tamenglong
  • Stringent only means to deter poppy grower
  • Congress : Uncharacteristically quiet
  • 4th Documentor Imphal [7 May] :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Being a scapegoat for ages in this disaster
  • Entrepreneurs invest 8 lakhs to documentary
  • 12th Mahousa Ima Ningsing Tha
  • Float Festival of Tamil Nadu Temples
  • Yaoshang Thabal Competition #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 May : Govt of Manipur
  • On custodial death of Arambam Nanao
  • Placating Sharmila : The Iron Lady
  • Service Engineer @Info Trade, Imphal
  • Integrated farming- 2x farmers' income #3
  • Tree Plantation Programme at Kangla
  • Greed blinding rogue police elements
  • War on Drugs : Give it more teeth
  • Artisan Lourembam Bino Devi :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 05 May : Govt of Manipur
  • The Truth Alone Must Triumph
  • ICU bed facility launched in Tamenglong
  • World Hand Hygiene Day 2022
  • Workshop on Climate Change at Lilong
  • Water education for food security
  • Torpid tourism sector
  • Separate flag & constitution
  • Id-ul-Fitr @Hatta Golapati :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Lavish event management gone wrong
  • World Veterinary Day 2022
  • Condemnation on the killing of Nanao
  • Summer skin care tips for a natural glow
  • Centre's push for NSU commendable
  • Powerless power
  • Ole Wangkheimayum : Making a difference
  • COVID-19 Status 03 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Last surviving Naga regionalist- Shurhozelie
  • DoNER Minister visited NSU, Khuman Lampak
  • Market creating innovations & economic
  • Kuzholuzo takes charges as NPF Leader
  • Swachhata Pakhwada at IBSD Imphal
  • Jiribam Keithel #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 May : Govt of Manipur
  • Cheilaoba : A short story
  • A tribute to Asok Potsangbam
  • Id-ul-fitr :: From a book
  • Building India to be the world's master
  • Rapists don't deserve mercy
  • Taking the case to a higher Court
  • Cheirao-chingkaba #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 May : Govt of Manipur
  • May Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • Nirupa Sanjenbam, Woman Achiever NE Fest
  • Student Centre for Excellence at Bishnupur
  • MPSC : Re-recruitment of MCS/MPS officers
  • Integrated farming- 2x farmers' income #2
  • Alangtakhou waterfall @Tml #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Blood Donation camp @Keisampat : Gallery
  • Appeal in High Court against Zou acquittal
  • Jubilee Celebration of Manipuri Cinema
  • Labour Day (May Day) -Chennai Connection
  • 24th - 30th April is World Immunization Week
  • Yaoshang Thabal @Mongshangei #4 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Foundation Day celebrated at IBSD Imphal
  • Alone but not lonely :: Poem
  • Gender balanced workforce
  • Govt North East plan: Repealing AFSPA
  • AFSPA repeal vow galore as NE enjoys peace
  • Promise of AFSPA free NE
  • The hike to the summit of Koubru
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Documentor Lab concludes with Final Pitch
  • Interlocutor promises the impossible
  • Natural ways to maintain a Summer glow
  • 2024 polls: BJP eyeing to tighten grip
  • Manipur : A smuggling paradise
  • Lunghar in Ukhrul district #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Call for a face-lift for cross-border town Moreh
  • Project Coordinator for Shestrong Assn
  • Integrated farming- 2x farmers' income #1
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century:: Book
  • Inclusion of Chandel in aspirational district
  • No takers at Lamphel
  • Student appearing HSLC Exam #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • My 'Tragic Tryst' with politics & politicians !
  • Education embroiled in cultural nightmare
  • Creativity is must for Career Development
  • Is Mizoram smarter in promoting border trade?
  • Back in the examination hall
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #3 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Talk Series with Aribam Syam Sharma
  • Market Creating Innovations & Pull Strategy
  • Intl Conclave on Universal Happiness
  • Four Churches in one compound
  • Employees in dilemma over 'place of posting'
  • Delivering LPG at Rs 100 per cylinder
  • Tributes on Khongjom Day :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Documentor Imphal 4th edition begins
  • World Malaria Day 25 April 2022
  • Few more to CM's 100 days programme
  • Rongali Bihu at RGU Arunachal Pradesh
  • Telangana midwifery initiative,game changer
  • Waithou encroachment affront to anti-graft
  • Stand to boycott Government news
  • Surbala Laishram : Mixed Martial Arts star
  • Tongjei Maril (Old Cachar Road) :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Autumn: Sentiment & the 'Maangang'
  • Drug-resistant TB: Are we converting ...
  • Hassled advantage 'Babudom' holds
  • Painting Competition on 'Tribal' #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Battle of Khongjom & Manipur's fighting spirit
  • World Earth Day at Tamenglong
  • Techniche, IIT Guwahati's Half Marathon
  • Meaning of life at Spring season
  • Khongjom Day amid outrage over Hindi policy
  • Need to look beyond 'No parking' sign
  • Floral tributes @ Cheiraoching #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Ima Machet Icha Tangkhai - A Film Review
  • Diploma in Photography Course at Imphal
  • Patent Filing Support from KIIT-TBI
  • Call for Regional Start-up Network
  • Decoding Hills-Valley improved relations
  • Body donation: Exemplary decision by Imas
  • Palpable inner contradiction: Stand of NNPGs
  • Cheirao-chingkaba #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Apr : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipuri Cinema can leap forward if ...
  • Hindi subject compulsory= economic sanction
  • Genomics of medicinal plants of NER
  • Summer with Mangoes :: Poem
  • Revival of sericulture sector must for state
  • Why no follow up on drug seizures ?
  • Yaoshang Sports @Bamon Leikai :: Gallery
  • Policies and the implementation gap!
  • Recycling of Agro-forest wastes- Mushroom
  • Listen to Silence
  • Digital content creator as a career choice
  • Fight against corruption, drugs
  • Move to decongest commercial areas
  • Rules of English Pronunciation : Download
  • Response to pandemics missing medicine
  • Presidency College, Motbung
  • Women Entrepreneur Network launched
  • World Heritage Day at Tamenglong
  • Armed thugs feasting as Govt plays peace
  • Covid is down, but it is not out
  • Mega Export Conclave #2 :: Gallery
  • Yaoshang Thabal (Day-time) #3 :: Gallery
  • Cheiraoba Chak Katpa [Apr 14] :: Gallery
  • Shajibu Cheiraoba @Pune :: Gallery
  • Cheirao-chingkaba @Singjamei #2 :: Gallery
  • Yaoshang @Bengaluru #2 :: Gallery
  • Boro Saheb Ongbi Sanatombi (MM) :: Gallery
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 :: Gallery
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Shopping :: Gallery
  • Sub-Syllables in English : Book Download
  • Learn English pronunciation: Book Download
  • Learning calculating skills : Download Book