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Ahead of state polls, Manipur CM meets President; rubbishes MHA report to EC

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh on Wednesday met President Pranab Mukherjee to discuss the Ministry of Home Affairs’ report to the Election Commission that termed the law-and-order situation in the state as “grave”.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Singh rubbished the report saying it “wrongly” concluded that the prevailing situation was “not conducive” to conduct free-and-fair polls there. However, just ahead of Ibobi’s meeting with the President, the EC declared that the Assembly election will be held in two phases — on March 4 and 8 — in Manipur.

Ibobi, who was accompanied by Congress’ Manipur election in-charge Ramesh Chennithala at the meeting, welcomed the decision. “I am told that there is a negative report sent by the MHA to the EC that the law-and-order situation in Manipur is not conducive to conduct a free-and-fair election. It is totally wrong and baseless,” he told reporters.

The chief minister said issues such as insurgency, blockades, strikes are not unique to Manipur but they affect the entire north-east and that even in 2012, the state Assembly polls were boycotted by hill and valley-based underground organisations including the PLA and the UNLF.

“The Congress in particular is not allowed to hold public meetings. But, ultimately the people support the party. They gave it a thumping majority in the last polls and even this time, there will not be any problem. We had suggested to the EC that just like earlier, the polls should be conducted in two phases. We are grateful to the commission for the announcement and hope that our party will win this time as well,” the Congress leader said.

Manipur has been witnessing an unrest since November 1 last due to the imposition of an indefinite economic blockade by the United Naga Council (UNC) on the lifeline of the landlocked state, two national highways, and violence following the creation of seven new districts by bifurcating the existing ones.