GUWAHATI: Manipur is witnessing the ugly phenomenon of pre-poll violence, and quite frequently, among the supporters of rival political parties for the first time.
The date of next year's Assembly elections has not been announced yet by the Election Commission but the state witnessed sporadic incidents of violence for about a month until three days ago in at least four constituencies.
Several people were injured. The authorities clamped Section 144 of the CrPC in Heirok, one of the Assembly segments. The incidents of violence, before and after past elections, were mostly insurgent-related. Political analysts cited reasons, including growing competitiveness in elections, behind the incidents.
Imphal Review of Arts and Politics editor Pradip Phanjoubam said that the incidents indicated muscle-flexing. "Maybe, it is not happening at the party-level but at the level of prospective candidates. Since the polls are likely to be keenly contested, they are trying to prove they will be up for the challenge. People are heated up," Phanjoubam told The New Indian Express.
He said that such incidents were rare in the past. He said that in the last three-four elections, there was always a party which was way stronger than the others and people were sure about its win in the absence of any competition.
He said the militant-related threats and violence before and after past elections were no longer there now. "The date of Assembly elections has not been announced yet but people are agitated. Since it is going to be a tough and tense fight, we are witnessing these incidents. Things happening are a bad trend. We fear there could be more such incidents given the contest, particularly between BJP and Congress," Phanjoubam said.
Political scientist Prof L Rajen of Manipur University said Manipur was witnessing Uttar Pradesh and Bihar-like pre-poll violence. "The violence occurred in constituencies which are slightly away from urban influence. These incidents are common in UP and Bihar but alien to the people of Manipur," Prof Rajen said.
He felt that desperation among voters, COVID pandemic, a high liquidity crunch and social media were the reasons. He pointed out that the sharing of social media contents without verification often aggravates a situation.