National People’s Party (NPP) chief and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Sunday kicked off by-election campaign at Wangoi in Thoubal district, one of the five “clear vacant” constituencies in Manipur. Sangma, who is on a two-day visit to the state, arrived in Imphal on Saturday from New Delhi
The NPP launched its campaign three days after Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh officially launched the by-election campaign for the BJP at Wangoi Assembly constituency. Soon after his arrival, Sangma inaugurated a new office building of the party amid controversy over the election of NPP Manipur unit president.
The NPP chief said that he is in Imphal to discuss party organisation and to discuss on the prospect for the upcoming bye-election in 13 assembly constituencies of Manipur. While the party is yet to decide on the number of candidates to contest in the bypolls, Sangma said process of examination of potential candidates have started. “We are still waiting for the ECI to announced the dates. We also announced the vacancies in respective the constituencies. But, as a political party, we have to do our homework and start examining where to put up our candidates,” he said. NPP is one of the key partners of the BJP-led coalition Government in Manipur.
Asked on the possibilities of seat-sharing with the allies, the NPP chief said that the decision rests on the consensus of the party.
Against this backdrop, Naga People’s Front (NPF), another crucial member of the coalition, suffered a blow as 17 leaders resigned the party to join the BJP fold. NPF has four MLAs supporting the coalition Government. The NPF leaders who resigned belonged to Tamenglong district. NPF is yet to issue any statement in this regard.
As many as 13 seats remains vacant in the state after a political turmoil in the state led to the resignation and disqualification of MLAs of the 13 constituencies.
N Ramananda, joint CEO Manipur, said the reason why the ECI had cleared only five constituencies due for by-election is because of the fact that election petitions were pending in the High Court of Manipur for the remaining eight constituencies. The five constituencies cleared for the bye-election are Wangoi, Wangjing Tentha, Lilong, Saitu and Singhat.
While the date for the by-election is yet to be declared, the joint CEO said that it will be held along with the Assembly election of Bihar. Dwelling on the preparation of the election in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CEO explained that the election will be held based on the broad guidelines laid down by the ECI. Nevertheless, based on the local requirements of the district or constituencies, management plans will be put in place.
With regards to SOP for the campaigns, the CEO said they cannot interfere until the election code of conduct is issued.