Tightrope walk Image Credit: FRONTLINE
Tightrope walk Image Credit: FRONTLINE

Tightrope Walk

The new government will have to balance two opposing demands that dominated the election process: to retain Manipur’s territorial integrity and to integrate all Naga-dominated areas.

Sushanta Talukdar

A FRACTURED VERDICT HAS THROWN UP A hung assembly in Manipur and stopped both the major players, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), from forming the next government in the northeastern State on their own. The Naga People’s Front (NPF), the National People’s Party (NPP), the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and an independent candidate have emerged as kingmakers. The human rights activist Irom Sharmila Chanu, who contested against Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, got only 90 votes.

The Congress, which ruled the State for three consecutive terms, emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats, but the party fell short of the magic number by three seats in the 60-member Legislative Assembly. In 2012, the Congress won 42 seats. The BJP won 21 seats in one of the most keenly fought battles in Manipur’s electoral history. The emotive issues of “territorial integrity of Manipur” and “integration of Naga-inhabited areas” had dominated the high-pitched campaign leading up to the election.

The NPF and the NPP secured four seats each. The LJP and the Trinamool won one seat each, and the remaining seat went to an independent candidate. Of the 40 seats in the valley districts, the Congress won in 19, the BJP in 16, the Trinamool in one, the LJP in one, and the NPP in two. One seat went to the independent candidate. Of the 20 seats in the hill districts, the Congress won in nine s

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