With barely a week for the poll dates in Manipur to be announced, BJP is trying to make inroads into the northeastern state by reaching out to world champion boxer Mary Kom to lead its campaign in the state election. Sources in the party said that the Olympian met party president Amit Shah last week.
The meeting has sparked off speculation that the BJP was keen on Kom spearheading the party’s fight in the upcoming polls in the fragmented state. However, sources said the ball was now in her court.
It was not known whether the BJP was considering her as its chief ministerial candidate. A close aide of the boxer, who is a Rajya Sabha member, said she had met some ministers in Delhi last week. “She is yet to join the party, and no decision on her future course of action has been taken yet,” said the aide. Kom was unavailable for comment.
Manipur state BJP chief K Bhabananda Singh said that no directive has come from the Centre; but that he will support if any announcement to make Kom the CM candidate is made.
With Mary belonging to the Kom tribe, it will be interesting to see how the party’s fortunes pan out in a state dominated mostly by the Meiteis. The absolute popularity that Mary enjoys outside the state needs to translate into votes for the BJP. Singh, however, says that he is ‘optimistic’ with the party’s great prospects.
Yet, the stalemate between the Congress-led government and the United Naga Council is firmly in place, blocking the entry of essential goods.
The other star face in the state, Irom Sharmila, who gave up her 16-year-long fast against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) early this year, caused a huge stir by announcing her plans to contest the elections. With an eroding popularity, Irom’s prospects will also be closely-watched.