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Updated: January 27, 2012 23:16 IST

Ibobi banks on gratitude

Iboyaima Laithangbam
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The battle royal of the Assembly elections in Manipur, scheduled for Saturday, will be fought in the Thoubal constituency, where Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh is locked in a three-cornered contest with Indira Oinam of the BJP and A. Manglemjao of the Trinamool Congress.

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The two top contenders are Ibobi and Indira since Manglemjao, a retired teacher, is not seen as a serious candidate. Since 2002, he has been fighting elections unsuccessfully. When this correspondent visited his home last Wednesday, there was no worker, supporter nor election-related activity there.

In the last elections, Ibobi retained Thoubal and vacated the Khangabok constituency (he won both) to make room for his wife Landhoni Devi. During the last 10 years, he has looked after his constituency quite well, providing them government jobs, lucrative contract works and other favours. He is now banking on their gratitude to win Saturday's election. Manglemjao alleges that Ibobi has corrupted young minds with such temptations. According to the Trinamool candidate, all close associates and relatives of Ibobi get armed guards.

Ibobi, however, is not worried by the allegations. Not too long ago, Thoubal only had a village market with some wooden shops and tin-roofed sheds. This has been transformed into a modern shopping complex. Most of the roadside kiosks were replaced with two-storied constructions.

BJP candidate Indira Oinam says that the new shops were allotted to Ibobi's close associates. Women who should have been given outlets for their handloom, handicrafts and other products were denied space, she alleges. She also ridicules Ibobi's claim of having looked after the people of the constituency, saying there are people who have no roofs over their heads, no drinking water or toilets, even though Thoubal is just 40 km from the State capital.

The campaign against an “outsider” in this constituency seems to be gaining momentum. In Manipur's context it means a lot. N. Mangi of the CPI grew up in Imphal and won election as Imphal Municipal Council commissioner. But he could never win an Assembly election, and eventually he had to return to his home village in Bishnupur district to contest from there. Ibobi has not been able to convince his detractors why he should intrude into this constituency.

The situation is further complicated by the continuing violent campaign against the Congress candidates and workers carried out by the CorCom, the strike force of the seven banned underground organisations. Ibobi has appealed to his supporters not to stick their necks out by campaigning for him. Indira, meanwhile, is campaigning house to house along with her supporters. Visits by star campaigners like Hema Malini and Nitin Gadkari have been a shot in the arm for her. Over 10,000 women in the constituency have benefitted from the self-help groups and training centres run by her. These grateful women have stood by her.

According to the affidavits filed by them, Ibobi is contesting the elections with Rs 50,000 in hand, and Indira and Manglemjao with just Rs 10,000 each.

Yes it's true that Thoubal has been developing and many residents are settled with jobs and booming business(esp.in taking large govt.funded contracts) during the reign of Ibobi as CM.There are even jokes going around that in office hours and in evening there are traffic jams of cars. But all is not well and this kind of sectoral development lead only to more discontentment and frustration esp in hilly areas where development and growth are just mere words.I cannot claim there is rampant corruption and favoritism because i dont have any prove but this i know this that with literacy rate and awareness of one's right on the rise, we, the Manipuris will be on our toes to curb such inequality in development,jobs and others facilities. The newly coming High Court in Manipur will be a motivator and source of inspiration for our caise.

from:  Luwangamba
Posted on: Jan 29, 2012 at 10:24 IST

Manipur @ Money-pur is a land of Congress actor run state . I am from Manipur Imphal East Municipality and I have just voted before writing this comment. I got rs 2500 as bribe by four candidates agencies yesterday in the night and in the early morning , the moment I took the money I thought i should not vote any of the candidate but only 4 were contesting in my constituency 2 candidates withdraw their candidature because the two are poor candidate ,before the EVM if the Election Commission of India gives a choice to the voter that if voter does not like none of the candidate an extra button be allowed in such case if arise I shall be very please to ECI. I accept all the money but I voted the least undesirable candidate.A candidate give me s 1000 , others remaining give me rs 500. As a voter I know this is bad ,but i select my choice . The affidavit is rubbish just imagine in my polling boot station there are around 995 voters then 995*2500 how much rs??then for 2357polling station

from:  L Ibohal
Posted on: Jan 28, 2012 at 12:48 IST
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