Imphal, March 9: Manipur is definitely not Uttar Pradesh. However, like the voters of the northern state, the people in the hill state of northeast India too want peace and development that remained elusive in Manipur since independence. The state went to polling in two phases on March 4 and March 8 to elect 60-member Manipur Legislative Assembly.
The high polling percentage recorded in both the voting phases in Manipur has been welcomed by all. According to the Election Commission, a voter turnout of 86% was recorded in both the phases of polling in the state.
This is a great democratic victory as people in large numbers came out to cast their votes, especially considering the state's law and order issues and difficult geographical terrain.
Currently, the state is reeling under economic blockade, a unique 'problem' faced only by the Manipuris (as the people of Manipur are known). On Thursday, Manipur entered the 128th day of the economic blockade. Since November 1, the United Naga Council-- an umbrella organisation of Naga civil society organisations-- has imposed a blockade on NH-2 (Imphal-Dimapur) and NH-37 (Imphal-Jiribam) highways that serve as lifelines for the landlocked Manipur.
Because of the ongoing blockade, prices of essential commodities and fuels have increased manifold. In these troubled times, right from petrol to a packet of Britannia biscuit, everything has become inaccessible to Manipuris. Even if they are available, customers have to pay exorbitant prices for fuels and daily essential items.
Moreover, we have witnessed a series of bomb blasts that rocked the state before and during the polls. In spite of all these impediments, people in Manipur 'loudly' expressed their wish-they want peace and development and not economic blockade and terror attacks by voting in large numbers.
"I have voted for peace and development. We are tired of bomb blasts and economic blockade. We want our state to grow and prosper," said Abem, a college-goer and first-time voter.
Her friend, Robert, who is pursuing engineering from a college in Bengaluru, went to his home state (Manipur) to vote. Robert added, "Because of security reasons, youths suffer the most. Hardly schools and colleges function here normally. I too have voted for peace and development."