New Delhi: The Manipur unit of the Congress has stepped up its activities ahead of the Assembly elections there. The party is holding public meetings and is campaigning door to door to stage a comeback in the coming elections. The party has started the process of screening its candidates. The Congress screening committee for Manipur was formed in November 2021 and is headed by former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh and includes members Rakibul Hussain, MLA, and Pradyut Bordoloi, MP.
The screening process, which started on 27 December will continue until 15 January. After which the screening committee will recommend the names for final approval by the party’s Central Election Committee. BJP has already announced 30 candidates and is expected to announce 10 more candidates in the coming days for the 60-member Manipur Assembly elections.
Akoijam Mirabai Devi, Congress MLA from Patsoi (Manipur West) said to The Sunday Guardian: “After BJP’s ticket announcement, those who miss getting the tickets may come to Congress. We are in talks with some but we are not sure how BJP will distribute the tickets, so first we will do an assessment of who wants to fight the elections and on that basis, we will give tickets to the candidates. We will screen the candidates and if anyone wants to come, we have vacancies in different constituencies for them.”
Informed sources told this newspaper, “Yenghkham Suchandra Singh (defected from Congress and returned later), who won the 2017 Assembly elections on a Congress ticket and became MLA from Kakching constituency, is wanting a ticket saying he will not leave the Congress again, but the party hasn’t finalized his candidature yet.”
Congress, after losing the 2017 Assembly polls in Manipur, suffered a setback as 8 of its 28 MLAs switched to the BJP. In 2018, before the Rajya Sabha elections, 4 out of those 8 returned to the Congress. And then in August 2020, 5 more MLAs deserted the party. The waning popularity of Congress in the Northeast is being ascribed to the leadership crisis in the northeastern states, but the competitive vote shares of the two national parties have kept the Congress in the fight.
However, according to a source the Congress will not give tickets to those who returned to the party. “They are back but they won’t get tickets this time. So they are talking of going to BJP again if they get tickets from there. There are 2 more MLAs, who, we believe may soon switch over to the BJP.”
Dr Nameirakpam Bijen Meetei, a political science professor with Manipur University said: “People are more inclined towards other parties like BJP and NPP, and NPF in hilly areas, people are talking less about the Congress and even most of the hopeful candidates are trying for BJP tickets. At the moment BJP is in slightly better position than the others.”