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Manipur Elections 2017: Polls to be a test for EC due to Naga blockade of NH-2

The latest decision of the United Naga Council (UNC) to intensify the agitation against creating seven new districts has thrown up a tough challenge for the Election Commission to carry out polls in the trouble-torn state of Manipur.

The EC sources said the conduct of polling will be uncertain in 30 of the 60 constituencies if the situation does not improve soon. Polls are to be held in two phases in Manipur – on March 4 and 8.

The EC’s main concern is the delivery of logistics — EVMs, booth and election material and the poll staff — to 30 of the 60 constituencies that depend on NH-2 for supplies, and ensure their safety. The NH-2 is known as the lifeline of the state and has seen the UNC protest for the last 75 days.

Wary of the explosive situation, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday met Manipur Chief Minister, Ibobi Singh and asked the CM to ensure movement on NH-2 by implementing law and order that is a constitutional duty of the State government. In turn, Ibobi Singh asked Rajnath to use the Centre’s influence to placate UNC which is unnecessarily challenging State’s prerogative.

Earlier, the Centre had contemplated serious to implement the President’s rule but then decided against it after meeting the state representatives and UNC delegation.

To carry out polls peacefully, the Manipur government had asked for 40 more companies (4000 personnel) of the central armed police forces (CAPFs) to add to the strength of 135 (13,500 personnel) existing companies. The forces have already been sent to the State but now it may require more central police forces to ease the situation which senior Home Ministry sources said the Centre will provide if the need arises.