Who will be Outer Manipur MP ?
Kaun Banega Outer Manipur MP ?

T Haokip *

Voting for 1st Phase of Lok Sabha 2009 (Outer) :: April 15 2009
Voting for 1st Phase of Lok Sabha 2009 (Outer) :: April 15 2009

Manipur has 3 representatives in the Indian Parliament. Two are elected for the Lower House -Lok Sabha and one is nominated for the Upper House – Rajya Sabha.

The two Parliamentary Constituencies are Inner Manipur and Outer Manipur. The Outer Manipur constituency is reserved for Scheduled tribe candidates. The Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency has 32 Legislative Assembly seats. Outer Parliamentary Constituency is also composed of six Assembly segments of Thoubal district namely – (1) Heirok, (2) Wangjing Tentha, (3) Khangabok, (4) Wabgai, ( 5) Kakching, (6) Hiyanglam, (7) Sugnoo, and (8) Jiribam subdivision of Imphal East district, besides the Scheduled Tribe Assembly segments spread across Tamenglong, Chandel, Ukhrul, Senapati and Churachandpur districts.

The unique feature of the Outer Parliamentary seat is that the voters comprise of three main ethnic groups Viz. the Nagas, Kukis and the Meiteis.

The Outer Manipur seat having approximately 8.5 lakhs voters out of which the Meitei voters from the 8 Assembly segments in the valley constitute 1.8 lakhs (who can cast their votes but cannot contest ) invariably play a major role in deciding the outcome of the poll.

A brief look at the past successful candidates from 1952 to 2009 will reveal that the Nagas and Kukis have equal share of representation. The elected members in the past are :

(1) R. Keishing (Naga)- 1952 S.P. (2) R. Suisa (Naga) –1957, INC; (3) R. Keishing, (Naga)–1961, Ind.; (4) Paokai Haokip (Kuki)- 1967, Ind; (5) Paokai Haokip(Kuki)- 1971, INC; (6) Y Shaiza(Naga)- 1977, INC; (7) N. Gouzagin (Kuki) – 1980, INC ; (8) M. Kamson ( Naga) –1984,INC; (9) M. Kamson (Naga) 1989, INC; (10) M. Kamson (Naga) 1991, (11) M. Kamson (Naga) 1996 - INC ; (12) : Miss K Gangte (Kuki)-1998, CPI ; (13) H. Haokip (Kuki)- 1999, NCP; (14) M. Charenamei (Naga)-2004, Ind.; (15) T. Baite (Kuki) -2009, INC .

In 2009 there were 9 (nine) candidates, Thangso Baite of Congress, D. Loli Adanee of BJP, LB Sona of NCP, M Jamkhongam Haokip of RJD, Thangkhogin of Lok Jan Shakti, sitting MP Mani Charenamei of People's Democratic Alliance, Independent Lamlalmoi Gangte besides two ladies–– Valley Rose Hungyo and Rose Mangshi Haokip (both independent candidates) fought for the Outer Parliamentary seat.

The outcome of the last poll held in 2009 shows Thangso Baite secured 3,44,517 votes compared to 2,24,719 votes cast for Mani Charenamei. Mr. Baite won by a margin 1,19,798 votes . The other candidates are BJP's D Loli Adanee (93,052), NCP's LB Sona (79,849).

The BJP's Manipur unit has announced the name of Prof Gangmumei Kamei, former Manipur Higher Education Minister as its candidate for the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha seat.

AITC Chief Mamata Banerjee, has announced that Kim Gangte will be the candidate for the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Lok Sabha Election 2104 .

Former minister C Doungel will be NCP's candidate for Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency in the coming election to the 2014 Lok Sabha Election.

Reliable sources say that Mani Charenamei is hobnobbing with the NSCN Supremo at Hebron Camp for securing NPF ticket and Loli Adani may opt for MPP, CPI or MSPC.

The emerging battle line appears to be a contest amongst former Lok Sabha MP Mani Charenamei, former minister C Doungel, ex-MP Kim Gangte, former Lok Sabha poll candidate Loli Adani, former minister Prof Gangmumei Kamei and sitting Congress MP Thangso Baite for the Manipur Outer Parliamentary seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the victor will be the last man standing.

Main issues that will impact the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Election 2014 are Manipur Territorial Integration and Disintegration, District Re-organization boundary, Demand for separate State, Sadar Hills District demand, Pan Naga Movement, Pan Kuki-Chin-Mizo (ZoRO ) movement, the SoO talk with the Kuki militants and the ongoing Indo-Naga Political Dialogue with the demand for an Interim Alternative Arrangement for the Nagas of Manipur.

Political alignment and voting pattern will depend on how political parties take up the above agenda and arrive at the best compromise.

Latest development and rumor afloat is that NPF will not put up its candidate but give all out support to the BJP candidate Prof Gangmumei Kamei which indicates that all Naga votes will pool together in the BJP basket.

It may be recalled that the BJP Government under A. Vajpayee had initiated the Indo-Naga Political Dialogue and the Nagas with great expectation are looking forward to resumption of the dialogue which has been kept in cold storage for the past many years.

BJP is also expected to make sizeable gain amongst the Meitei voters in the valley segments who are otherwise averse to NPF. Speculation is also afloat that some sections of the Kuki voters in Chandel and Sadar Hills will go along with the BJP if negotiation leads to an acceptable deal.

The Zomi (ZRA) groups in Churachandpur who are not in favor of a Kuki candidate may also switch allegiance to the BJP.

In the present political context the Congress is not likely to field any Naga candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha election especially after the poll alliance between the NPF and the BJP. The incumbent MP Mr. Thangso Baite is most likely to contest on the Congress ticket as there are no alternative from the Kuki community who will compete for the Congress ticket.

He has been maintaining a cool low profile and has not done anything adverse to the party's interest. Reliable sources say that former Education Minister Mr Thaisii, former MLA Jangamlung Panmei, present Churachandpur ADC Chairman Langkhanpao Guite, Ngachonmi Ch and Vungaihlun Tonsing daughter of present Minister Phungzathang Tonsing are all vying for the Congress ticket.

The biggest threat to the Congress is the BJP at the Centre and the NPF in the State so far as the coming Lok Sabha Election is concern.

Poll analysis shows that Mr. C. Doungel (NCP) and Mrs. Kim Gangte (Trinamol) who are both Kukis will cut out a large chunk of Kuki votes which will have negative impact on Thangso Baite's vote bank.

The Trinamol and NCP will also slice out a sizeable chunk of Meitei vote from the 8 valley Assembly segments which in the last Lok Sabha poll went in favour of the Congress. Therefore, if Kuki votes in the hill constituencies and that of Meitei votes in the valley Assembly segments get split, the Congress and incumbent MP Thangso Baite's chance of retaining the Outer Manipur seat is extremely doubtful.

This speculation gets strengthened all that more as all along there was widening rift between Thangso Baite and the various social organizations such as the Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC), All Tribal Students' Union Manipur, Sadar Hills District Demand Committee, the Kuki Students' Organization (KSO) and many more.

His relationship with the two principal Kuki outfits – KNO and UPF is anybody's guess. Rumor is afloat that Shri Thangso Baite's close link with the Zomi Organization group will affect his relationship with the Thadou Kuki speaking community which may have far reaching consequence in the coming Lok Sabha poll. However, in politics there can never be permanent friend and permanent foe.

In today's electoral poll money plays extremely crucial and major role. If the Congress can strike a good deal with the SoO groups, and Shri Thangso Baite arrives at an understanding with Mr. C. Doungel (NCP) and Kim Gangte (Trinamol Congress) there is every chance of the incumbent M.P. retaining his present seat.

The most crucial issue that must not be ignored or lost sight of is that there is going to be a neck to neck fight between the BJP( NDA ) and the Congress ( UPA ) at the Centre. It was during the BJP regime that the Indo-Naga Political Dialogue has taken birth and assumed significance.

The Naga leaders expecting the return of BJP(NDA) to power and if that happens and Prof. G. Kamei gets elected on BJP ticket in Outer Manipur seat there is every possibility of the Indo-Naga political dialogue resuming with new vigor and spirit. The NDA government will also give greater importance to the idea of implementing an Alternative Arrangement for the Nagas of Manipur as a sign of thanks-giving in return for their support.

Therefore, the preservation of Manipur Territorial integrity and the integration of Naga inhabited districts of Manipur with Nagaland will be the core issue. The demand for a separate state by the Kukis will impact the Meitei–Kuki relationship and may have wide ramification in the coming Parliamentary election. The Congress High Command at the Centre will have to study and make calculative assessment of the number games base on the factual position and ground realities. Perhaps money power alone or mere complacency base on the grand success in the last Assembly poll may not be enough to bring victory for the Congress in this vital 2014 Lok Sabha election.

* T Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a former, IRS officer, Commissioner of Customs & Excise (Retd) and can be contacted at thaokip52(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on October 28, 2013.

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