India

Manipur elections: PA Sangma sets up NPP, giving ruling BJP a run for its money

Naveen Bharat Editorial

GUWAHATI: Taking advantage of the declining popularity of the Congress, the National People’s Party (NPP) is trying to emerge as an alternative to the ruling BJP in Manipur.

Even as the Congress is trying to recover from one setback after several of its MLAs switched to the BJP, the NPP has begun the legwork with an eye on the assembly elections to be held in February next year.

It heads the coalition government in Meghalaya and is a constituent of the BJP-led ruling coalition of Manipur. The party’s national president and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma kicked off the election campaign by addressing a few rallies in the Imphal Valley for two days earlier this week.

The NPP had contested on nine seats in 2017, but is likely to field candidates on around 40 seats this time. This shows how serious and optimistic the party is about Manipur. All four of its winning candidates from the previous elections were inducted into the ministry.

NPP’s Manipur unit general secretary (organisation) Sheikh Nurul Hasan said that unlike now, the NPP was not organized before the 2017 elections. He said the decision to contest the elections was a sudden one and no organization could be formed.

“However, this time we are fighting the elections seriously. Manipur does not have a stable economic policy. If the NPP comes to power, the state will have an economic policy and it will be implemented effectively,” Hasan told this newspaper.

He said that the NPP will fight the elections on the basis of issues. Stating that the party would grant Scheduled Tribe status to indigenous Meitei and Meitei Pangal communities if voted to power, he said it would bring together over 30 ethnic communities, resulting in inclusive growth and development in all 60 constituencies.

The NPP leader said that the assembly elections in Manipur are always fought on the basis of personality and party. He said that the personality has a chance of winning about 70%.

“The candidates we are going to field are widely known in their respective constituencies as they are well connected with the people through social services. Some of them are highly educated,” Hassan said.

Personality really matters a lot in the Northeast elections. In the 2012 Manipur elections, the Trinamool Congress had no base in the state but managed to win seven seats after fielding some very good candidates.

The NPP promised to bring in a policy to protect the cultural and linguistic identities of all indigenous communities and their rights and another policy for youth.

“We raised many issues in the government, but our voices were never heard,” Hasan said, pointing to the BJP being the single largest party, calling the shots in the ruling coalition.

The NPP was founded in January 2013 by former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma.

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