Gaikhangam Gangmei, the Deputy Chief Minister of Manipur and PCC president, has confirmed that the AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi will be coming to Manipur on March 19 to address public meetings. He had disclosed that a public meeting will be arranged at Wangjing sports stadium in Thoubal district. Party sources said that there may be two other public meetings in Thoubal district, which also happens to be the home district of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

Besides, the voters in the seven Assembly segments in the district have been clamouring with their demands since they are denied meaningful democracy. It may be recalled that the non-tribal voters numbering about 2,00,000 in these Assembly segments can exercise their franchise to elect a tribal MP for the reserve Outer Manipur constituency. However, they can never contest for the seat since it is reserved for tribals. In view of the small population of the tribals the non-tribal segments were added to the constituency. One of the major demands was the nomination of a politician from the district as the Rajya sabha MP as a compensation. The Congress which had nominated a Muslim politician as the Rajya sabha MP is doing everything to tell voters of the district that they are not neglected.

Another political gain the Congress leaders want to make through this visit is to bring the disgruntled voters of the district to the Congress fold. Indira Oinam has been an active member of the BJP. In the last Assembly elections she had contested the Thoubal constituency against the Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh. She was defeated by a narrow margin. It was expected that she had a fair chance to win in the forthcoming Lok sabha elections. However this time she was denied the BJP ticket. In protest she and her supporters had resigned from the BJP and she is planning to contest the elections as an independent. The Congress leaders in Manipur are hoping that with the magic wand Rahul Gandhi may wield during the election meetings most of the supporters who are disgruntled may support the Congress candidate.

Mr. Gangmei says that there will be considerable gathering, “much more than the gathering in the public meeting in Imphal addressed by the BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.” He also ridiculed the concept of third alternative saying that the hotchpotch combination had already disintegrated. He is certain that the Congress shall win both the Lok Sabha seats in Manipur.

Security measures have been beefed up throughout the State in preparation for the visit. There are reports of increased police patrols and raids. Some youth said to be insurgents had been picked up.