There is a constant mechanical drone heard in this city, especially around government offices, hotels and bigger shops. The dreary noise of a diesel generator cannot be mistaken for anything else.
Generators are signs of a state almost perpetually living without electricity. In Imphal city – among the 29 assembly constituencies going to polls in the second phase on Wednesday – power comes n fits and starts, maybe for three hours in the morning and say two in the evening. "Sometimes, we just get an hour of electricity," Kumar Singh, owner of a cigarette kiosk said.
The situation became so dark two years ago that the incumbent Congress Government had to issue an order whereby no government official could withdraw his salary without showing a "no due" slip from the electricity department.
Manipur draws its power from the Eastern Power Grid. "There is some problem with payment of power bills. So Manipur's share of the power has been slashed," said a state government official who did not want to be named.
For Wednesday's election, power is the not the only issue related to lack of civic amenities. Imphal, incidentally, does not have a public transport system. As in, like in other cities, it does not have the luxury of a bus service that takes citizens from point a to point b. So, private cars are increasing steadily. Then, the water supply in the city is erratic and water pollution is also on the rise.
Congress in its campaign had promised to allocate more money for developing Imphal, and had also driven home the point that under its rule Manipur for the first time saw the completion of the five-year term.
So, Wednesday is likely to be crucial for Congress. In 2002, Congress had just won one of seven constituencies that make up Imphal city. The BJP and the Federal Party of Manipur had won two each while the remaining two had gone to other regional parties.
It is also crucial for the CPI, which is fielding 16 of its 24 candidates on Wednesday. "We are confident of improving our tally from 2002's five," party's local secretary, B Sharma, told HT.