Supping with an ally of the foe Strange bedfellows


Strange bedfellows but this is how it has panned out, at least for now. Strange, for while is a partner with the BJP in the Government the other is Left to the Right of the BJP. But as in politics calculations such as who one is supping with does not count and so it is that the CPI and the NPP will support each other in the Lok Sabha elections, polling for which will be held on April 11 for the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency while the Inner will go to polls on April 18. The arrangement looks perfect for remember the CPI has not fielded any candidate in the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency while the NPP has not in the Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency. So practically no rivalry at the hustings and the two political parties also seem to stand on the same line when it comes to issues such as the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which the BJP had announced will be brought back if it is voted back to power. Other than this, what similarities the two parties have is best left to the leaders of the two parties to spell out. But nevertheless a pact is on and this is what is interesting. Equally interesting too is the question of the reach and influence of the CPI in the Outer Parliamentary Constituency. True the CPI did manage to send a representative back in the late 90s when Kim Gangte was elected from the Outer Constituency as a CPI candidate. The fact however is, the situation back then was very different and the political equation has changed very much today and herein lies the question of how much support the CPI can extend to the NPP in the Outer where the latter has fielded State unit president Thangminlen Kipgen.
In the Inner the situation is a bit different for the NPP has four MLAs and hence can expect to extend noticeable support to the CPI, which has fielded veteran Dr M Nara. Early days yet, but the poll fever is definitely picking up and it is interesting to see how parties which are in the Government along with the BJP have started gunning for each other. The NPP and the NPF are together with the BJP in the Government but a tough fight can be expected between the NPP and the NPF in the Outer Parliamentary Constituency. Here it is also important to note that tribe affiliation will also play a major role in determining the decision of the voters when they come out to vote on voting day. NPF candidate Dr Lorho Pfoze has been selling himself as a man standing for the rights of the minorities and the indigenous people of Manipur, but it would be hard to expect the non-Naga tribes to vote in his favour. Likewise it would not be foolhardy to expect the non-Kuki-Chin-Mizo folks to vote for Thangminlen Kipgen and other candidates coming from the same tribe, Benjamin Mate of the BJP being a case in point. What however is different from the earlier elections that Manipur has seen is the welcome development that the election this time will not be as polarised, when political parties were seen as representing the interests of specific communities. This is the beauty of the 17th Lok Sabha elections in Manipur and one hopes that this is not a one time affair but continues to underline all future elections too.

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