The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced its candidates for the elections to the 60-member Manipur Legislative Assembly.
Polling for the assembly elections in Manipur will be held on February 27 and March 3. Counting of votes will be held on March 10.
Taking to Twitter, the BJP on January 30 announced: “The Central Election Committee meeting of BJP has given its approval on the names of the following candidates for the Manipur Assembly Elections-2022.”
The BJP has done a tightrope walk in announcing the names of 60 candidates for elections in Manipur and has retained most of the sitting MLAs to avoid dissension and desertion.
In the list announced, chief minister N Biren Singh has been fielded from his traditional Heingang constituency.
The list includes three women candidates – Nemcha Kipgen from Kangpokpi, Soraisam Kebi Devi from Naoriya Pakhanglakpa constituency and SS Olish from Chandel (ST) reserved constituency.
Nemcha Kipgen has a bright prospect as she is a sitting BJP legislator (2017). In 2012 she had won the seat on a Congress ticket. In 2017, National People’s Party (NPP), BJP’s post-poll ally, candidate Letpao Haokip had won the Chandel seat.
In these two constituencies Naoriya Pakhanglakpa and Chandel (ST), the advantage is not with the saffron party, and the contests can be symbolic in more ways than one.
But BJP nominee Olish had polled over 23 per cent of vote share in 2017 and polled 9,842 votes to finish third in the race.
Whether the saffron party was able to make further inroads in last five years remains to be tested.
Closer analysis suggests the BJP could face a tough fight in eight-ten constituencies in the valley that sends 40 legislators to the 60-member assembly.
In the hills, including Naga stronghold areas, the BJP’s list suggests it is banking on the image of prime minister Narendra Modi vis-a-vis the Naga peace talks and hence the advantage could be with NPF.
The BJP nominees will get the advantage of support from the Kuki population in Churachandpur and the adjoining region.
The saffron party has fielded Okram Henry Singh, nephew of Congress stalwart Okram Ibobi Singh, from Wangkhei assembly constituency.
Okram Henry Singh was declared as the winner in 2017, but on April 15, 2021, the high court declared the election result as null and void.
It also declared that Yumkham Erabot Singh would be the elected member from the Wangkhei constituency.
The BJP nominee against Okram Ibobi Singh in Thoubal assembly seat will be L Basanta Singh.
The saffron party has also decided to field a former IAS officer, Raghumani Singh from Uripok assembly segment. He will be pitted against Y Joykumar Singh of National People’s Party.
Singh is the deputy chief minister and thus the going may be tough for the BJP candidate.
Congratulations to all the BJP candidates for Manipur Assembly Election 2022.
With Hon'ble PM Sh. @narendramodi Ji and BJP National President Sh @JPNadda Ji’s guidance, I am confident that the @BJP4India will come back with an absolute majority in the upcoming assembly election. pic.twitter.com/WYjEifFHJu
— N.Biren Singh (@NBirenSingh) January 30, 2022
The saffron party has good prospects of winning certain seats like Churachandpur (ST) and Singhat seats, but will face a tough fight in Chandel and Tengnoupal.
The going would not be easy even in Yaiskul assembly constituency where sitting legislator Thokchom Satyabrata Singh has been fielded again.
The possibility of former cop Thounaojam Brinda contesting in this constituency either as Congress candidate or Independent would make things difficult for the BJP. She has been a vocal critic of chief minister N Biren Singh.