A post-poll, pre-counting alliance has led to a consolidation of parties opposed to the Congress, which seeks to come to power for the third time in a row in Manipur.
Three days before the counting on March 6, the five-party alliance, the People’s Democratic Front (PDF), led by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), has transformed itself into the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), comprising 11 parties. It includes the CPI, the ally the Congress lost just before the polls on January 28; the Trinamool Congress, which had fielded the highest number of candidates (47) after the Congress’s 60; and the Naga People’s Front (NPF), a party from Nagaland seen as a threat to Manipur’s territorial integrity.
The Congress was also ‘banned’ from campaigning by a coordination committee of seven rebel groups that saw the party to be responsible for Manipur’s “ruin”. What all this means is that Mandate 2012 will eventually end up being the Congress versus the others, including the Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP), which was suspected to be CM Okram Ibobi Singh’s B-team. The suspicion arose because the MSCP fielded Singh’s kin or acquaintances.
“This is an alliance of constituents with differences of opinions and agenda,” said Pradesh Congress Committee president Gaikhangam.
PDA leaders insisted the team-up of non-Congress parties was necessary for the welfare of a geographically divided Manipur. “We are working out a common minimum programme,” said senior CPI leader M Nara.
Chief minister Ibobi Singh, however, is confident the Congress’ performance, particularly on the rural front, would see his party through. “We should get the majority mark (31 seats) comfortably,” he said.