IMPHAL: If there is a widespread perception of big money spending during elections in many parts of the country, including the Northeast, Manipur stands out as an exception. The reason is not demonetisation.
The streets in Imphal Valley, which is one-tenth of Manipur, do not tell the story of a State going to elections in three days time. When one expects frenetic activities before campaigning comes to a close, the streets here are quiet. Supporters moving around in convoys of vehicles shouting slogans and posters and banners of candidates and political parties hung around thoroughfares are a rarity here.
From the time the model code of conduct came into force, only around Rs 2 crore has been seized. The locals claim money does exchange hands on the sly but the volume of it is negligible compared to other States. Unlike Arunachal and Nagaland where a candidate is required to spend in crores to win any elections, the candidates in Manipur can afford to go by the Election Commission’s rule to spend less than Rs 20 lakh. According to locals in Arunachal, a candidate is required to spend anything between Rs10 crore and Rs 30 crore to win an election.
With just seven days left for the last of two-phase Manipur polls on March 8, the candidates are still going about hoisting flags. The flags are hoisted before launching campaign. It is considered auspicious and believed to bring good luck. The parties in consultation with astrologers and priests decide when the flags are to be hoisted.