Ticket tussle pins down MPCC
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 20: Plagued with strong dissent and serious impasse over the issuance of tickets to aspiring candidates, MPCC is still unable to announce names of candidates for the second phase polls.

The first phase of candidates' list was announced on January 12 after the list was finalised during a meeting at the New Delhi residence of AICC president Sonia Gandhi along with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh the previous day.

Even as the MPCC has been working to declare the second batch of candidates since some days back, the list of candidates could not be announced till today.

Though MPCC preferred silence on inability to declare the names of the candidates, a reliable source disclosed that the tussle and impasse over Congress tickets is delaying the process to select INC candidates.

On the other hand, a former MPCC president has been urging the AICC to reserve Kshetrigao A/C for minority Muslims in addition to three constituencies already reserved for Muslims.

Because of the former president's strong contention, AICC is also unable to publish the final list of candidates.

According to information received from New Delhi, on recommendation of OBC Department of MPCC and Manipur State in-charge Chikati Bhupal Gowda, AICC to reserve one Assembly segment for Minority/OBC, AICC finalised one Babuchand as INC candidate for Kshetrigao A/C.Even though the final list of candidates was prepared earlier, names of the candidates could not be announced as yet due to serious wrangling and tussle within MPCC.

In another unprecedented political twist, MPCC cancelled the official ticket allotted to one of its own aspiring candidate who had already filed his nomination and offered it to another who filed his nomination only today, thereby inviting widespread resentment within the party.

Party workers and sympathisers of Aleng Shimray stormed Congress Bhavan today in protest cancellation of his official ticket and offering it to former Minister AS Arthur.

On the basis of the official ticket issued to him by the party, Shimray filed his nomination to contest in the upcoming election to the 9th Manipur Legislative from 44-Ukhrul A/C with the approval of Election Commission of India at Imphal on January 18.With nod from the AICC president Sonia Gandhi, National secy and North east in charge of the party Oscar Fernandes had announced Aleng Shimray as the official candidate of National Congress party from the Ukhrul A/C during a function here on January 14.His name was among the 19 candidates announced for the first phase of the election scheduled on Feb 8.According to information received by the press, AICC secy Sanjoy Bhopana and Randy Thomas who are presently camping at Imphal came to the residence of seasoned Congressman and Rajya Sabha MP Rishang Keishing at around 8 pm yesterday to exert pressure for withdrawal of the ticket given to Shimray and passed on the same to Arthur along with the offer of giving a suitable post to Shimray.

During the meeting Keishing is learnt to have made it clear that it would be in violation of the rules to withdraw the ticket given to someone who had already filed the nomination paper with the permission of the party high command.

On getting wind of the move being made for withdrawal of ticket, workers of Ukhrul District Committee and Block Congress and sympathisers of Aleng Shimray today stormed the Congress Bhavan here prompting police to swing into action to disperse them.

Sources from Congress Bhavan said the official ticket earlier issued to the Aleng Shimray has been cancelled and the same re-issued in favour of former Forest and Environment Minister AS Arthur along with provided all the necessary documents for filing the nomination papers.

Consequently, Arthur has reportedly filed his nomination paper to contest in the election from 44-Ukhrul A/C today.

A statement issued by the chairman of Media Cell, MPCC S Mangi Singh said new arrangement has been made following instruction from AICC.

Who would ultimately become the official Congress candidate would be known only after the scrutiny of the nomination papers on January 22.However, luck seems to be more on the side of Arthur.

Aggrieved Congress workers from Ukhrul who gathered at the gate of Congress Bhavan expressed strong resentment against the decision of the AICC and said it amounts to humiliating the aspiring candidate.

They further informed that a written complaint had been lodged to the AICC president Sonia Gandhi in this connection.