Manipur polls: Congress relies on Left votes to come to power

Congress has forged a pre-poll alliance with four Left parties and Janata Dal (Secular). The sole goal of the formation is to oust a belligerent BJP from power.

Published: 28th January 2022 07:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th January 2022 10:54 PM   |  A+A-

Manipur CM N Biren Singh

Manipur CM N Biren Singh (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Hit hard by the defection of half of its MLAs to the BJP over the past five years, the Congress is depending on the Left parties to regain its lost ground in Manipur.

It has forged a pre-poll alliance with four Left parties and Janata Dal (Secular). The sole goal of the formation is to oust a belligerent BJP from power.

Dislodging it from power will not be a cakewalk though. The BJP is on a firm footing in alliance with the regional National People's Party (NPP) and Naga People's Front and there are no visible signs of anti-incumbency.

However, the BJP’s challenge might come from within. The party has at least two-three ticket aspirants, who are equally strong, in most of the 60 constituencies. There is a possibility that those who will miss the bus will go to Congress and NPP to contest the polls. In anticipation of it, the two parties have refrained from declaring the names of all their candidates.

The Congress has announced the names of 40 candidates and the NPP 20. The Communist Party of India (CPI) has also declared the names of two candidates. The Congress and its five alliance partners will hold consultations among themselves before making a decision on the remaining 18 seats.

The Congress believes the decision on pre-poll alignment could be a "game-changer". "We have a targeted reason behind the pre-poll alliance. As the Left parties have many membership cardholders in Manipur, they took three months to arrive at a decision on supporting us for the specific reason that the BJP should be ousted. That is their only agenda. Our agenda is also the BJP's ouster," Congress spokesperson K Debabrata told The New Indian Express.

The Congress believes the Left votes would help it win more seats, especially those where it feels the victory margin could be less than 1,000 votes. "The Left parties are spread over 25-26 constituencies in the Imphal valley. They don’t have winning numbers but they do have deciding numbers," Debabrata said.

To prove the Left’s support base, he said the CPI's Dr M Nara had emerged second in the four Lok Sabha elections he had contested prior to 2019.

As regards the Janata Dal (Secular), the Congress spokesman said it has a small number of followers in several constituencies. "But the JDS matters to us. It could influence 200-500 voters in some seats," he added.

Dr Nara said the "like-minded parties" had to come together to be able to take on the might of the BJP. Similarly, CPM's Kshetrimayum Shantakumar Singh said the six parties got together to defeat the BJP.

Political analyst Pradip Phanjoubam said the six-party formation would have an advantage only if there was a hung House. "If there is a hung House, the parties entering into a pre-poll alliance have to be given the first preference," Phanjoubam said.

He said the Left parties used to have a strong base in the state at one point in time but it depleted over the years. "They used to win 10-12 seats when they had a strong presence. They still have a following," he added.


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