With the state reeling under the impact of an economic blockade since last November and petrol selling at Rs 200-250 per litre, the candidates of different political parties were forced to go on a door-to-door campaign on foot. The state is under an indefinite economic blockade launched by the United Naga Council (UNC) since November 1, last year, in protest against the creation of seven new districts bifurcating the existing ones.
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The supply of essential commodities, including fuel, to Manipur was severely hit due to the blockade on NH2 (via Dimapur) and NH 37 (via Jiribam), the two lifelines of the state. As most of the petrol pumps are facing severe shortage of fuels, they are being sold in the black market at an exorbitant price of Rs 200-250 per litre. Political parties are compelled to use minimum number of vehicles for the purpose of campaigning.
“Our candidates in most of the places were campaigning on foot. Earlier, we used to do it on cars or open jeeps. But this time there is a huge scarcity of petrol/diesel, and the prices are exorbitant,” a state BJP leader said. This was echoed by both ruling Congress and other opposition parties like the People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) party of rights activist Irom Sharmila and Trinamool Congress.
The Congress, however, said that the economic blockade was the a result of a covert pact between the BJP and the UNC. “There is a fuel shortage, but the BJP being in power at the Centre can’t shake off its responsibility. They are trying to reap dividends out of this blockade,” a Congress leader said.