Nimaichand Luwang, a former minister, is the president of the Manipur People’s Party (MPP). He is the convener of the People’s Democratic Front (PDF), a pre-poll alliance of five non-Congress parties whose objective is to defeat the Congress. Luwang speaks to IBOYAIMA LAITHANGBAM about the prospects of the PDF.
Why did you form the PDF?
No Opposition party could defeat the Congress single-handedly. Apart from some short periods in the past, it has been firmly in the saddle for the last 10 years. That is why five non-Congress parties — the MPP, the NCP, the CPI(M), the RJD and the JD(U) — have formed the PDF. We are certain of our victory.
PCC President Gaikhangam has been saying that there is no Opposition in Manipur and what remains will support the Congress. At least 16 Opposition politicians, including those from your party, had sought Congress tickets.
True. Four out of five MPP MLAs had resigned and sought Congress tickets. Two of them got Congress tickets while the two others got Trinamool Congress tickets. The election prospects of the Congress were bright till January 4. But its death knell was sounded when the seven outlawed organisations imposed a ban on it. In view of the daily violent incidents, the Congress candidates cannot establish contacts with the voters. PDF candidates face no such restrictions or threats and are carrying on with electioneering. The PDF will emerge as the single largest group in the elections. Our reading is that after the elections, the Congress shall not be a political force to reckon with in the state.
Will there be post-election alliances to stake a claim to form the next government?
It will depend on the situation. Our doors shall remain open to all like-minded parties. Being non-Congress parties, the CPI and the Trinamool could join hands with us. Besides, the MPP has seat adjustment with the BJP. We are not fielding candidates in constituencies where the BJP is contesting and vice-versa.
What are the common strategies of the PDF?
The recurring protracted blockades against Manipur and the feeble reaction from the lame duck administration will be the main election plank of the PDF. The government did not pay enough attention when people faced shortages and price hikes during such blockades. Of course, there are other burning issues like non-governance, unbridled price hike, repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, territorial integrity of Manipur and the law and order situation.
But the Congress also swears by the territorial integrity of Manipur?
It should not be forgotten that the Congress had signed the merger agreement with the United Naga Integration Council on August 4, 1974. This tribal political party had the agenda of disintegrating Manipur on tribal and non-tribal lines. At the time of signing the agreement, the Congress committed that it does not object to the Naga unification and that its demand is not anti-national and unconstitutional. The agreement is still there and people are apprehensive about it.
Will the PDF overcome the nitty-gritty of power sharing?
There will be no major problem. There was no disagreement over the number of candidates or constituencies to be shared by the PDF partners. There shall be no hitch over the distribution of ministerial berths.