India's poorest CM?

Chief Minister of Manipur Okram Ibobi, who has been in power for 10 years, could well be the poorest Chief Minister in the country. Going by his poll affidavit, he had just Rs 50,000 in hand to fight the January 28 elections. His affidavit declared a balance of Rs 1,04,147 in the SBI, Manipur secretariat branch and another Rs 1,000 at the SBI Thoubal branch. In 2000 he bought an Ambassador car costing Rs 50,000. Besides, he has 240 gram of gold valued at Rs 4 lakh. He has no agricultural land. He also has a residential cum commercial building at Lamphel, bought on a hire purchase scheme at Rs 27,10,000 in 2009. His total liability is Rs 6,44,420.

His funds fall well short of Rs 8 lakh limit fixed by the Election Commission. A good chunk of the Rs 50,000 must have been gone when he treated a few thousands of his supporters at a flag hoisting function at Ningombam, who were treated to kheer.

MGP's tightrope walk in Goa

Goa's oldest regional political outfit Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party(MGP), led by brothers Ramkrishna Dhavlikar and Dipak Dhavlikar, seems to have perfected the art of “running with the hares and hunting with the hounds” in elections. The MGP, a soft Hindutva party, which ruled Goa for 16 years without a break, continues to be a partner in the Congress-led coalition government with Ramkrishna Dhavlikar being a Minister, while the younger brother Dipak was chairman of a State-owned corporation till Tuesday.

Just as they did ahead of the last Assembly election, the Dhavlikar combine has now too kept the alliance carrot dangling before the Opposition Bhartiya Janata Party(BJP) but wisely laced it with an unreasonable demand for seats. The Dhavlikar brothers have admitted publicly that they are in talks with BJP, but the political buzz is that the MGP leaders are in a tacit understanding with Chief Minister Digambar Kamat for a post-election alliance as a hung assembly is most likely.

In dry Manipur, liquor flows

Manipur is a dry state. But ahead of the elections, IMFL and country liquor are flowing. The EC has asked the government to close down the illegal drinking joints and stop illegal sale of IMFL. Excise officials seized IMFL bottles worth Rs 3 lakh on a single day. The government is however yet to close down the illgal drinking joints. These ubiquitous outlets operate quite openly paying protection money. The raiding party arrests people found drinking, but they are released later. The bootleggers are left alone to serve the next customers.

Some days back an excise department staffer opened fire from his service rifle when a woman bootlegger refused to cough up Rs 5. He was arrested, but he was released subsequently since the woman preferred not to press charges. The easy availability of liquor is a cause of concern for the EC officials now in Imphal, who fear that it could create law and order problems.

(Contributed by Iboyaima Laithangbam, Prakash Kamat)

Keywords: assembly polls

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