Will BJP be able to recreate 'Assam magic' in Manipur elections?

Will BJP be able to recreate 'Assam magic' in Manipur elections?”

The first phase of the Manipur Assembly elections takes place on Saturday across the 38 constituency seats in the state.

Polling in both Uttar Pradesh and Manipur passed off peacefully officials said barring a few incidents of "poll intimidation" which was reported from Manipur. Polling stations with defective EVMs functioned long after 3 pm, the official closing time.

And then, a member of the Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), Erendro Leichombam, was assaulted by unidentified individuals.

Voting was conducted across Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Phezerol districts for 168 candidates.

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For the second phase on March 08, altogether 98 candidates are in thefray in 22 constituencies.

Manipur has recorded over 84 per cent record polling in the 1st phase of assembly polls in 38 Assembly Constituencies spread over six districts. This time, the BJP has been vociferously targeting the incumbent Congress government in Manipur for massive corruption and lack of development in the state. Saikul constituency in the state had the maximum number of contestants in a single constituency at 11.

The EC, in a statement released on Saturday, March 4, said: "Due to the death of contesting candidates, namely Chand Shekhar and Kuldeep Singh Kanwasi from 279- Alapur (SC) Assembly constituency of the Uttar Pradesh and from 06-Karna Prayag Assembly Constituency of Uttarakhand, respectively, the commission adjourned the poll in the aforesaid two constituencies and fixed March 9, 2017, (Thursday) as the date of poll in the said constituencies".

The reason behind the high voters turnout is because of widespread voters awareness programmes, said Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Vivek Kumar Dewangan of Manipur Election department.

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About 250 companies were deployed for security in the polling stations. Congress leaders, including party vice president Rahul Gandhi, put the spotlight on the "secretive nature" and contents of the Naga Framework Agreement between the central government and the NSCN (IM) in 2015. Besides the ruling Congress, which is fielding 59 candidates (37 in the first phase), the other political entities in the fray are the National People's Party, Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Lokjana Sakhti and Left parties.

In the fray in the penultimate phase are many state leaders, including BJP's Swamy Prasad Maurya (Padrauna seat), former UP BJP chief Surya Pratap Shahi (Pathardeva), BJP's Gorakhpur MP Mahant Adityanath and Mukhtar Ansari, the don-turned-politician contesting the Mau seat from behind the bars. Recently, one of the BJP legislators crossed over to the Congress while three from Congress and four Naga Peoples Front (NPF) MLAs resigned from the House bringing the strength down from 60 to 53.

Irom Sharmila, Manipur's iconic rights activist, cast her vote in Khurai constituency after a gap of nearly two decades on Saturday.

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