The Election Commission of India on Saturday declared the Manipur Assembly elections 2022 schedule, announcing voting in two phases with the first on February 27 and the second on March 3.
The Manipur election results 2022 will be declared when counting of votes in Manipur takes place on March 10 along with four other poll-bound states – Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa. The term of the current Manipur Assembly ends in March 19.
With the announcement of the Assembly elections schedule, the Model Code of Conduct has come into force across Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Goa. The EC said elections will be completed in seven phases for the five states.
This is the second tranche of state elections to be held in India since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu had voted during the second coronavirus wave in March-April 2020. This time too, Omicron-triggered third Covid-19 wave has forced political parties to alter plans for election rallies.
Chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra said political parties and candidates are advised to conduct campaign through digital mode, while free time on Doordarshan has been doubled for political parties in view of Covid-19. The ECI has cancelled roadshows, padyatras and rallies by candidates till January 15.
Numbers in Manipur Assembly
The Manipur Assembly has a total of 60 seats, with 31 being the majority mark. While there are 40 constituencies in the valley region, there 20 in the hill region.
In the 2017 Manipur elections, N Biren Singh was sworn in as the chief minister after the BJP formed the government in the state. The party, having won 21 seats, formed a coalition with National People’s Party (NPP), Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
Despite the Congress being the single largest party in the legislature with 28 seats, this marked the first time that the BJP formed the government in Manipur. The saffron party had drawn a blank in the 2012 polls.
In coalition with the BJP to form the government, NPP and NPF won four seats each while the LJP won only a single seat. The remaining two seats went to the Trinamool Congress and an Independent.
Where the Parties Stand
The BJP is gunning for a second consecutive term in the state with its main campaign line of peace and development. While there is no definite CM face from the BJP as such, RSS-groomed Thongam Biswajit, whose portfolios include panchayat and rural development, is being seen as a frontrunner. In June 2020, the N Biren Singh-led government faced a crisis when nine MLAs, including the deputy chief minister, withdrew support to the ruling coalition.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, has set the tone for the Manipur elections by inaugurating infrastructure projects worth Rs 4,800 crore from road to mobile connectivity to health.
In the aftermath of an ambush in Manipur in which Assam Rifles’ commanding officer, his son and wife and other jawans died, the PM laid special emphasis on bringing about peace in the state. Addressing a gathering on January 4, he had said, “We should remember how the previous govts made Manipur a ‘blockade state’ and played politics to break the public unity. Efforts of double engine government made sure there’s no fire of militancy and insecurity, but the light of peace and development."
The Congress, on the other hand, is in complete disarray even though it was the single largest party in 2017 elections. The state party unit has been riddled with defections with veteran Congress legislator D Korungthang joining the NPF on January 5. In November 2021, too, two disgruntled Congress MLAs RK Imo Singh and Yamthong Haokip joined the BJP fold, following which former state president Govindas Konthoujam also switched to the BJP.
Many within the Congress, too, have said former CM and veteran Congressman Ibobi Singh is the state unit’s weakest link. He has not been active politically due to ill health and old age.
There was much speculation over the past two years that the NPP will not stand with the BJP due to a rift between the two allies. But it now seems that coalition parties — NPP, NPF and Lok Janshakti Party.