BJP ally JD(U) in fray in Manipur, hopes to be ‘Kingmaker’

It is contesting in 38 out of 60 seats after initially having planned to fight only 20

March 01, 2022 04:54 pm | Updated 04:54 pm IST - NEW DELHI

People stand in queues to cast their vote during the first phase of Manipur Assembly Elections.

People stand in queues to cast their vote during the first phase of Manipur Assembly Elections. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Janata Dal (U) has been campaigning rather vigorously in the Manipur Assembly polls, against its own ally, the BJP, and has declared that it has the potential to emerge as a “kingmaker” in the election.

The party is contesting in 38 out of the 60 seats after initially having planned to fight only 20. “We had initially thought we would fight on 20 seats, but we found many good candidates, including ex-police officer Thounaojam Brinda,” said Afaque Ahmad Khan, general secretary of the JD(U) and party in charge of the Manipur polls. Many of those denied ticket in the BJP and the Congress, comprising even sitting MLAs, have also made a beeline for JD(U).

No stranger to northeast

The largely Bihar based party is no stranger to the northeast, especially to Manipur. As far back as year 2000, the party won a seat in the State. In 2017, it first announced and then backed off from contesting. In Arunachal Pradesh though, in the 2018 polls, it won seven out of the 15 seats it contested. In Nagaland also, in 2018, it won one seat and came second in 5-6 seats. In the Itanagar Municipal Corporation polls, it won 9 out of the 20 seats. Post-polls, the party has also seen MLAs switch over to the BJP as the party in power, but the JD(U) feels that it should not stop from contesting.

“Our ideology, the leadership of Nitish Kumar and the fact that from the start, our party has been demanding the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act [AFSPA]) are some of the issues which we feel will find resonance among the voters. The current government in the State has demonstrated rampant corruption and procrastination of over the territorial boundary talks has also taken a toll,” Mr. Khan said.

He finds no contradiction in fighting polls against the BJP, with whom his party runs a government in Bihar. “We are doing nothing new, every party has the right to fight polls on its issues. Yes, in Bihar we run a government together, but that does not preclude us from competing in other States,” he said. “March 10 will spring a surprise,” he added.

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