Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will campaign in Manipur on Tuesday, a day after the first phase of the election concluded in 38 assembly constituencies. This will be Gandhi’s second visit to the poll-bound state in the last few weeks. Earlier, the former Congress president had addressed a public meeting in Imphal’s Hapta Kangjeibung area on February 21.
During the meeting, Gandhi promised to give one-third reservation to women in Manipur, make the state self-sufficient in rice production, revive the MSME sector and improve irrigational facilities among others. He hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by saying that it only believed in one ideology, one language and one culture.
“I believe that every single state has an equal right to have their own languages, culture, history and a way of looking at themselves. On the other hand, BJP believes in one ideology, one language and one culture. India is facing a battle between these two ideologies,” Gandhi said.
He also targeted the ruling BJP government in Manipur over the management of the pandemic. “Thousands of people had died in Manipur due to lack of oxygen and ventilators during the Covid-19 pandemic and the northeastern state was among the worst performers in vaccination,” the Congress leader said on February 21.”
For this year’s assembly election, the Congress is part of the Manipur Progressive Secular Alliance (MPSA)- a six party-alliance.
According to Congress’ Manipur observer Jairam Ramesh, the alliance, which includes the Communist Party of India (CPI), Forward Bloc and the Janata Dal (Secular), was launched with an 18-point common agenda.
The first phase of polling in 38 assembly constituencies of Manipur recorded a voter turnout of 78.03 %, compared to 86% recorded in 2017. Incidents of sporadic violence, deaths of election staff and one state police personnel and damage to electronic voting machines marked the first phase of voting.
Congress candidate Lamtinthang Haokip was arrested on Monday for alleged violence during the first phase of polling.
Jairam Ramesh wrote a letter to the state’s chief electoral officer and demanded an unconditional and immediate release of Haokip. “INC Candidate from 51-Saitu Lamtinthang Haokip arrested unjustly when he went to New Keithelmanbi Polling stn to ensure free and fair elections, to stop BJP from malpractices. We demand his unconditional and immediate release! This is murder of democracy by Union Home Minister and CM,” Ramesh tweeted.