Imphal, Feb 14: It's a lacklustre election season in Manipur. Unlike in other poll-bound states--Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand--election campaign in the northeastern state has so far been muted.
Reason: the state is reeling under an economic blockade. Because of the ongoing economic blockade, candidates, cutting across party lines, have kept their campaign measures low key. As the state is experiencing severe fuel crisis, most of the candidates are seen doing door-to-door campaign.
"There is no petrol/diesel to refuel our vehicles. Moreover, prices of fuels have become exorbitant. Thus, we have decided to visit voters directly in their houses," a Congress worker told a local journalist.
Many in Manipur are not in favour of the elections being conducted when the state is facing a crisis. However, voters have no other option, but to exercise their democratic rights during the election days. Similarly, many candidates have been vocal about the impediments they have been facing due to the economic blockade.
On Tuesday, Manipur entered the 105th 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.
There is nothing new about economic blockades imposed in Manipur, several times a year, by various political and rebel groups every year. During these economic blockades, the vehicular movements in the two National Highways--NH-2 and NH-202--connecting the state with the rest of the country--come to a standstill.
Polling for the 60 seats Manipur Assembly will be hosted in two phases on March 4 and March 8. Results will be declared on March 11. In the last assembly polls, the Congress won 42 seats and Okram Ibobi Singh was re-elected as the chief minister of the state.