Exit mother, enter son.
Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh’s wife will not be seeking re-election from Khangabok assembly constituency in Thoubal district. His only son, Okram Surajkumar alias Kennedy, will.
Thoubal district, where the first phase of the election will be held on March 4, is the chief minister’s home turf. Shrugging off ‘dynastic politics’ barbs by the BJP, the Manipur Congress has given the green signal to 29-year-old Surajkumar’s nomination in the place of his mother – Okram Landhoni – who has represented Khangabok for two terms in a row.
“I will step down because Manipur needs more youth energy,” Landhoni told reporters.
Surajkumar is likely to be the youngest candidate in Manipur’s Mandate 2017. State BJP vice-president Jadumani will figure among his opponents.
An economics graduate from London’s Kingston University, Surajkumar is a polo player and a state-level badminton champion. He is married, and has a son.
In an interview with the Imphal Free Press, Surajkumar claimed he did not have any political ambitions until recently. “Politics was my parents’ domain. But then, I decided to extend a helping hand to the underprivileged in the (Khangabok) constituency after witnessing the difficulties faced by them,” he said.
Surajkumar said the “deep-rooted” corruption in Manipur can be combated only if the new generation takes over. He claimed to have earned his place in the Congress party by reaching out to people in times of need, helping flood-affected people and empowering the youth.
“If given an opportunity, I will replicate in Manipur the development models of developed countries that I have studied,” he said.
The Congress hopes to retain power in the state for the fourth straight term under Ibobi Singh, a former contractor.