Imphal, Mar 16 (UNI) Rajya Sabha MP and former Manipur Chief Minister Rishang Keishing has emerged as a strong contender for the Upper House elections to be held on March 26.
Besides Mr Keishing, National People's Party (NPP) candidate and former MLA B D Behring submitted his nomination papers to the Returning Officer on the last day of filing the nominations yesterday.
Scrutiny of the nomination papers would be done tomorrow.
Congress president Gaikhangam, Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh, state Law and Legislative Affairs Minister Th Debendra, Information Minister T N Haokip, Deputy Chairman of State Planning Board Elangbam Kunjeshore and Congress vice-president T Mangibabu supported Mr Keishing while the proposers of Mr Behring were Independent MLAs Wungnaoshing Keishing, K.Raina, Awangbow Newmai, W Morung Makunga, Khasim Ruivah, NPP president V.Hangkhanlien and Thangkholun Haokip.
However, reportedly, the CPI, a constituent of the Congress-led Secular Progressive Front (SPF) government was not happy with the selection of the candidate.
The CPI had mooted the idea of projecting a Muslim candidate in the interest of the minorities.
Dr Nara, of the CPI, said his party was not against the candidature of Mr Rishang but the policy of the Congress.
Election to the Rajya Sabha is scheduled to be held on March 26 and interestingly Mr Rishang had not even applied for a ticket.
Congress commands 31 seats in the 60-member Assembly while the CPI, with four members and RJD, with three members, are supporting the government. Hence, the chances of Mr Keishing being re-elected are high.
Mr Keishing was elected as Rajya Sabha Member in 2002 and his term expires on April 8.
The Manipur People's Party (MPP) announced that it would not project any candidate. So far, any other political party has not declared the name of any candidate.
Meanwhile, the Muslims were demanding nomination of a candidate from the minority community while the Scheduled Caste communities had also demanded nomination of SC candidate. Various women organisations had also been demanding nomination of a woman.
Rishang Keishing (88), born on October 25, 1920, has the unique distinction of being elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1952 General Elections from Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency and he was re-elected to the Lower House again in 1962.
In 1972 he was elected as a member of the Manipur Legislative Assembly from Phungyar constituency in Ukhrul. He was re-elected in 1974.
He served as Finance Minister, Education Minister, Tribal Welfare Minister and Transport and Forest Minister from 1974 to 1977.
He also has the distinction of being the longest serving Chief Minister.
He won in 1980 again and served as the Deputy Chief Minister and Chief Minister from November 27, 1980 to January 4, 1985.
He again became the Chief Minister from 1985 to 1988 and from March, 1994 to 1995 and from December, 1995 to 1998.
He attained another unique position when he was the only Opposition member in the Assembly, when Mr Radhabinod Koijam became the Chief Minister in 2001.
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