Imphal, Feb 19: A total of 168 candidates are left in the fray for the first phase of polls in Manipur in 38 Assembly constituencies. The 38 hill and valley constituencies out of 60 will go to polls on March 4 in the state. There are 11 independents in the first phase. The BJP is the only party which is contesting all seats. There is no Congress candidate in the Churachandpur and the Kangpokpi constituencies.
Most of the constituencies will see straight fights. However, 11 candidates are in the fray in the Saikul constituency. Manipur’s political heavyweight Phungzathang Tonsing, who was given a Congress ticket for the Churachandpur constituency, had resigned from the primary membership of the party.
There is pressure on some tribal politicians not to contest on the Congress ticket.
The lone tribal woman MLA Nemcha Kipgen also resigned from the Congress and joined the BJP. She is contesting as BJP candidate from the Kangpokpi constituency. On Saturday, there were protests as candidates of the Manipur People’s Party were given two different election symbols — of petrol pump and cycle. Protests went on till late on Saturday night. Some candidates of the Manipur People’s Party were allotted the petrol pump symbol. They hung around the office of the Chief Election Officer till late on Saturday night demanding the bicycle symbol of the party for decades. However poll officials said, “The symbol cannot be changed now. Following court cases the Manipur People’s Party was derecognised. Later the group led by N. Sovakiran was recognised as the MPP office bearers.” Some of the candidates will now contest in the symbol of petrol pump. However, officials later said, “N. Sovakiran and some others will be allowed to contest in the bicycle symbol in the second phase on March 8.”
The officials explained, “There was no time for official processing of the documents while the court case was pending, with the result that the first batch of candidates was given the petrol pump symbol. But there will be time for allotting the bicycle symbol for the rest of the candidates.” Electioneering is in full swing in these constituencies. There are reports of minor clashes among the workers and vandalising of cars and houses in some constituencies. (IANS)