Manipur Elections 2017: BJP clashes with ally NPF in Manipur hills over Naga vote

The second phase Manipur polls will be critical as votes in 22 seats, most in the Naga-majority hills will decide the fate of the state

Just 46-km from Imphal, there is a small town known as Pallel in Manipur. Located in the periphery of Chandel and Thoubal, the two hill district of Manipur, Pallel is known for its mixed bags of different communities that include Naga, Kuki, Lamkangs, Aimols, Marings, Meitheis, etc.

Pallel is also known as the gateway to the Tran-Asian super Highway i.e NH-2 which is now a blocked highway by United Naga Council creating economic blockade for the entire state.

Pallel, which was once known for its wide varieties of different communities of people staying together in harmony, is now a disturbed zone.

In December the Ibobi-led government divided the Naga dominated districts and created seven new districts agitating the Nagas. The Nagas claim that this bifurcation will snatch away their ancestral land and launched their economic blockade by blocking both the lifelines of Manipur i.e. NH 2 and NH 37.

Pallel has also been divided from Chandel and now is a part of Kakching, a new district. Interestingly, the new districts formed have divided the voters of Pallel as some of them will cast their vote from Chandel, some from Kakching and few from Tengnoupal constituency.

This entire situation has helped BJP made a niche in the hills and create their ground for including voters.

The second phase Manipur polls will be critical as votes in 22 seats, most in the Naga-majority hills will decide the fate of the state.

In less than 48 hours for the second phase polls in Manipur, the fight is becoming more intense between BJP and NPF (Naga People’s front) in the hills. In the second phase, most of the constituencies fall under four major Naga-dominated hill districts i.e. Tamenlong, Chandel, Ukhrul, and Senapati.

The other seats include a huge population of Kuki tribe who are the adversaries of the Nagas and also blind vote banks of the congress. But interestingly, this time tint of Saffron wave is witnessed in the Kuki-dominated areas. The hand (symbol of congress) seems to be in danger.

As on one hand where the Nagas stand united against the formation of seven new districts, the Kukis who were once dedicated towards Congress seems satisfied as the new district Kangpokpi was a long-standing demand of them but their core issues have still not been addressed by the government as per its promise.

Meanwhile, NPF is contesting a total of 15 seats in 2017 polls, in 2012 election which was their electoral debut they struggled to win four seats all in hills. This time also the NPF is fighting but rather than the congress they are allying with BJP in the Centre.

Whoever be the winner, the question remains whether the new government will be able to knit all the communities together to establish peaceful state in coming days or the dispute will carry on as it is.