What issues will decide the 2022 Assembly polls ?
Gearing up ahead
Still early, that is if one goes by the number of days left for Manipur to go to polls in the early part of next year, but yet it may not be too early if one takes into account what is at stake. And so it is that some Assembly Constituencies have started rolling the poll ball and this is what will make the coming Assembly elections all that more interesting. What voters in all Constituencies should keep in mind is whether they want to continue with the old or whether they are ready to ring in the new and bring a change. This is why there is the popular observation, ‘The people get the type of Government they deserve’ and deciding the type of Government is obviously in the hands of the people. The two big players will obviously be the ruling BJP and the Congress, but the impact of the smaller parties cannot be ruled out at all and this is where it would be interesting to see how the NPP and the NPF, in particular, perform. The strength of the NPF can be ascertained to a certain extent when the pending election to the ADCs is held for this will go a long way in demonstrating the strength of the party at the grassroots level. This is where it would be interesting to see how the NPF performs. Likewise, how well placed is the BJP, especially in the areas where the NPF is believed to have a strong base, that is in the Naga dominated districts. This is an interesting question and the outcome of the pending elections will reflect on this question. How about the Congress ? The oldest political party does have an MLA from a Naga dominated district in the person of Alfred Kanngam Arthur from Ukhrul Assembly Constituency and this is where things can become interesting. Remains to be seen how the Congress is able to galvanise its poll machinery, at least in the ADCs that fall under Ukhrul Assembly Constituency.
Other than how the local body elections can impact on the coming Assembly elections, it would be interesting to see how the issues besieging Manipur at present can turn into a poll issue for the different political parties, notably the big two. At the moment the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur has been holding a series of sit-in-protests demanding that the State Government recommend to the Centre that the Meiteis be included in the ST list of the Constitution of India. What is the stand of the other political parties on the issue, is another question that may be raised. Moreover will the STDCM be able to make the ST demand an issue which can occupy an important place on the agenda of the different political parties, particularly the BJP and the Congress ? More interestingly, will the voters be swayed by this issue when the time to vote comes ? Will any of the political parties be up to it to include the ST demand in their poll strategy ? Or will any of the intending candidates take this as one of their calling cards when they go to the voters to seek their approval ? All questions at the moment, but the coming days will get more interesting and obviously there will be other issues, which the different political parties will kick up. And it stands that there will be different issues which concern the hills and the valley and again which concern the Naga inhabited areas and the areas which are dominated by the Kukis. So peace talk between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India is one issue which can influence voters in areas dominated by the Nagas and the SoO pact and ongoing negotiations in Kuki dominated districts.