Manipur Assembly election: Irom Sharmila's showdown with CM Ibobi Singh in phase 2

In Thoubal, where Chief Minister Ibobi Singh has won three consecutive terms is being challenged by the main opposition BJP and new entrant PRJA led by Irom Sharmila.

All eyes will be on the battle royal in Thoubal on Wednesday as Irom Sharmila makes her political debut against three time Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh in the second and final phase of Manipur Assembly polls.

22 seats spread across Thoubal, Ukhrul, Chandel, Tamenglong and Senapati districts will be voting in this crucial final phase that will decide who will rule the state for the next five years.

In Thoubal, where Chief Minister Ibobi Singh has won three consecutive terms is being challenged by the main opposition BJP and new entrant PRJA led by Irom Sharmila.

While Ibobi Singh has welcomed Sharmila's foray into politics stating that in democracy anybody was free to contest, Sharmila maintains her fight is as much against the chief minister as it was against the current political system in the state.

"It is not just symbolic. We are fighting to win. The response is positive and I'm confident," she had told India Today after casting her vote in the first phase of polling last Saturday.

"Our stand against money and muscle power is a big example to the whole corrupted system of electoral politics in Manipur," said Manipur's iron lady.

A total of 98 candidates are contesting in this phase amid tight security across 1151 polling booths. Even on the eve of this final phase, two improvised explosive device (IED) blasts were reported from Ukhrul district in which one army jawan and a civilian got injured.

More than 250 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed along with the Army that is keeping a close vigil on the polls.

Meanwhile, Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla has appealed to voters to exercise their constitutional responsibility so that the state came first in the country with the highest voter turnout.

In the first phase of polling that concluded on March 4, a whopping 84 percent voting had been recorded. Results for the 60-seat Manipur assembly is scheduled to be announced on March 11.

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Manipur election: Irom Sharmila takes on CM Okram Ibobi as BJP looks to firm its grip on NorthEast