GUWAHATI: The National People’s Party (NPP) is trying to emerge as an alternative to the ruling BJP in poll-bound Manipur by cashing in on the Congress’s depleting popularity.
Even as the Congress is trying to recover from the setbacks that came one after the other following the defection of several of its MLAs to the BJP, the NPP has started the legwork with eyes fixed on the Assembly elections, due in February next year.
It heads the coalition government in Meghalaya and is a constituent of Manipur’s BJP-led ruling coalition. The party’s national president and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma launched the poll campaign by addressing some rallies in the Imphal valley for two days earlier this week.
The NPP had contested nine seats in 2017 but is likely to set up candidates in some 40 seats this time around. This indicates how serious and optimistic the party is about Manipur. All its four wining candidates of last elections were inducted into the ministry.
Sheikh Noorul Hassan, who is the NPP’s Manipur unit general secretary (organisation), said unlike now, the NPP was not organised ahead of 2017 elections. The decision to contest that election was sudden and no organisation could be set up, he said.
“This time however, we are fighting the polls seriously. Manipur does not have a sustainable economic policy. If the NPP comes to power, the state will have an economic policy and it will be implemented effectively,” Hassan told this newspaper.
He said the NPP would fight the polls based on issues. Stating that the party would grant Scheduled Tribe status to indigenous Meitei and Meitei Pangal communities, if voted to power, he said this would bring over 30 ethnic communities together, resulting in an inclusive growth and development in all 60 constituencies.
The NPP leader said the Assembly elections in Manipur are always fought based on personality and party. Personality carries almost 70% chances of winnability, he said.
“The candidates we are going to field are widely-known in their respective constituencies as they have been well-connected with people through social services. Some of them are highly-educated,” Hassan said.
Personality indeed matters a lot in the elections in Northeast. In the 2012 Manipur elections, the Trinamool Congress virtually had no base in the state but managed to win seven seats after fielding some very good candidates.
The NPP promised to bring in a policy for the protection of the cultural and linguistic identity of all indigenous communities and their rights and another for the youth.
“We raised many issues in the government but our voices were never heard,” Hassan said, indicating the BJP, by virtue of being the single largest party, calls the shots in the ruling coalition.
The NPP was founded in January 2013 by former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma.