Manipur: Blast rocks Imphal a day before polls

New Delhi: A day before polls in Manipur, one person has been injured in a blast in west district of Imphal. Police say they suspect the used of IED in the blast. The area has been evacuated.

The blast occurred a day after campaigning for Manipur assembly election ended on Thursday.

Manipur will on Saturday elect a new 60-member assembly to mark the start of make-or-break elections in five states. The staggered exercise, which ends with the vote in Goa and Uttar Pradesh on March 3, will be this year’s first major test for political parties. Along with Uttarakhand and Punjab, a grand total of 137 million voters will be eligible to exercise their franchise in the five states.

Official sources said major insurgent organisations had been targetting and attacking Congress workers and candidates in the past two weeks by lobbing grenades or exploding bombs.

Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh had questioned as to why insurgents were targetting only Congress and asked whether the insurgents had a ‘hidden agenda.’

Withdrawal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) 1958 from the state and protection of the territorial integrity of Manipura were the manin issues that that were highlighted during the campaign, the reports said.

Except Congress, all major political parties had promised to withdraw the AFSPA, if voted to power.

The Congress said it would lift it only after an improvement in the law and order situation, the reports said. Shortage of electricity and water supply, bad road conditions of the national highways and problems faced by the state due to frequent blockades on the national highways were the other issues raised during the campaigning.

The few public meetings which were addressed by national leaders in the past one week included a meeting by Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee at Langjing in Imphal West district where she promised that AFSPA would be lifted if her party came to power.

BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari, Hema Malini and a few central leaders of other parties had also addressed some meetings in interior districts in the past week.

A spokesman of the Maniur people’s party (MPP) told mediapersons that the Congress had failed to deliver the results during its last ten-year rule.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javedkar had earlier said that Manipur had witnessed a spurt in corruption and criminal activities during the last ten-year Congress rule.

Alleging that the government remained silent about incidents like the one in which state advocate general Koteshore Singh was shot at by a minister during a tour and the killing of a boy by a minister’s son, he asked “Was there at all any government in the state?”

Demanding action against the culprits, he said if the BJP was voted to power it would put the guilty behind bars besides correcting the system.

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