Politically crucial by polls for some
Understanding the stake
It is more than a by election and for reasons which are politically crucial. The results of the by elections to the four Assembly Constituencies can go a long way in determining how Chief Minister N Biren stands within the BJP, besides determining how the Chief Minister is able to silence the jibes and neutralise the politics of pulls and pushes which the Congress has been pulling regularly to discredit the BJP led coalition Government at Imphal. That the Chief Minister is not taking any chances with the by elections may be surmised from the fact that two MLAs, who quit the Congress and then the Assembly, awaiting the by elections, have been inducted into the Council of Ministry. And the ‘inducted in the Council of Ministers’ is a line that has been parroted to woo the voters of Wangoi Assembly Constituency. The same line will no doubt be repeated when the by election is held at Wangkhei Assembly Constituency and as expected it is this line of campaigning which has added that extra dose of colour to the by elections. Singnat has already been pocketed by the BJP, after the other lone candidate withdrew his candidature. One pocketed but the fate of the other four will only be known on November 10 and it is going to be an interesting vote counting day, not only for the media and the voters of the four Assembly Constituencies but also for all other people who have been keenly following the political developments in the State. What added more colour to the campaigning was the no holds barred stand adopted by none less than the Chief Minister himself while asserting that the BJP is now more keen on forming the Government on its own. Pressure from coalition partners, is one line that may be read into this and the Chief Minister was candid enough to admit that a BJP alone Government would be better placed to work for the welfare of the people.
As in life, nothing is predictable in the world of politics, and how things pan out after the result of the by elections is announced is best left to time to take its own course, but it should stand that the stake is high especially for the Chief Minister himself. As noted earlier here, a good show at the by elections will give the needed muscle to the Chief Minister within the BJP itself (remember the power struggle some time back). To many others too, the by elections will also be seen as some sort of a warm up match before the real match in 2022, when Manipur goes for her Assembly elections. It will also be interesting to see how the coalition partners within the Government redefine their working relationship after the by elections. The NPP is a major player in the by election at Wangoi Assembly Constituency and this is the place where the BJP candidate has been made a Minister, after he quit the Congress and then the Assembly. Remember too, that the Congress candidate in Wangoi Assembly Constituency was with the BJP before switching side to the Congress. Apart from Wangoi AC, Lilong Assembly Constituency is another interesting segment, where the BJP has not fielded any official candidate but is nonetheless openly backing and campaigning for an Independent candidate who quit the Congress and then the Assembly. How the voters vote will also go a long way in deciding how well the people are tuned to the idea of their representatives quitting the party under which ticket they won the Assembly elections in 2017 and then the Assembly to enforce a sort of a mid term poll.