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

While the BJP is pitching itself as the best option for Manipur, the final phase of voting will see activist Irom Sharmila take on Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh in a high-stakes battle in Thoubal on March 8.

While Narendra Modi is camping in Varanasi as Uttar Pradesh gears up for the last phase of polling on March 8, in Manipur it is Himanta Biswa Sarma who is touring the state ahead of the last leg of voting.

Sarma, the architect of the BJP's stupendous victory in Assam last year, has been addressing rallies and conferences in the state. After Assam, a win in Manipur, which has been a Congress stronghold, will firmly establish the BJP as a strong player in the North-East.

While the BJP is pitching itself as the best option for the state, the final phase of voting will see activist Irom Sharmila and Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh locked in a high-stakes battle in Thoubal.

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HERE IS ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ELECTION IN MANIPUR:

  1. BJP leader and Assam's finance minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma said if the BJP forms the next government in Manipur, a CBI inquiry will be ordered into staged shootouts in the state. The issue of "fake encounters" came to limelight after a Manipur police commando confessed to killing an unarmed suspected insurgent in 2009.
  2. Anti-AFSPA crusader Irom Sharmila had then urged people of Manipur to launch an agitation demanding action against the police officer in the alleged fake encounter. Sharmila, who has since broken her 16-year-long fast, is now contesting the Assembly election in Manipur under her party People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA).
  3. Sharmila has challenged Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh from Thoubal constituency, which will go to polls on March 8. Besides Thoubal, Sharmila is also contesting from her hometown Khurai, which voted on March 4.
  4. While a total of 38 constituencies voted in the first phase on March 4, the remaining 22 will vote in the final phase on March 8. More than 84 per cent polling was recorded in the first phase.
  5. BJP's Hemanta Biswa Sarma said the high-voter turnout was a mandate against the "corrupt Congress government". The Ibobi-led Congress government is fighting anti-incumbency factor even as the economic blockade continues in the state.
  6. The government's inability to end the blockade, which was imposed by the United Naga Council (UNC) on November 1, 2016, may go against it in the election. The blockade has dominated the election discourse in Manipur with both the Congress and the BJP levelling charges against each other.
  7. The Congress accused the BJP of "covertly" supporting the UNC to continue with the blockade. The BJP hit out at the Congress for deliberately bifurcating the districts to divide the state on ethnic lines just before the Assembly election in the state.

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