One of its candidates in Manipur was prevented from filing his nomination papers while at least four others have not been able to campaign because of threats from extremist groups, the National People’s Party (NPP) has said.
In a petition to the Election Commission, the NPP has sought adequate security cover for its Manipur poll candidates as they were being intimidated by some armed groups in peace mode. These groups cater to the sub-nationalism of the Kuki-Zomi community.
Such has been the reign of terror in the Churachandpur and Tengnoupal districts that many candidates have been forced to stay indoors, an NPP leader said on condition of anonymity.“Our candidate for the Singhat seat could not file his nomination as some militants, posted outside his house for a week until February 8 [last date of submitting papers for the first phase of elections on February 27], threatened to shoot him if he ventured out. He was forced to remain incommunicado too,” the NPP leader said.
The NPP candidates for other hill constituencies such as Churachandpur, Henglep, Thanlon and Tipaimukh were luckier to file their nominations. But they have virtually been under house arrest, unable to campaign. The party headed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma alleged that members of extremist groups such as the United Kuki Liberation Front, Kuki National Army and Hmar People’s Convention-Democracy have come out openly in support of the candidates of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its alliance partner, Naga People’s Front (NPF).
The NPP, also part of the ruling alliance, preferred not to carry the friendship to the electoral contest. Neither did the NPF, but it is restricted to a few hill constituencies with a majority or sizeable Naga population and is seen as less of a threat to the BJP.
Stating that the Election Commission has been apprised of all the incidents, the NPP said the ongoing situation was an attempt to jeopardise the conduct of the free and fair elections. “…If the situation is allowed to prevail, where militant and underground outfits are moving around openly with arms, the electorates will fear and would not come out to vote,” the NPP said.