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Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh Called To Delhi 24 Hours Before Counting Day

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Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has been called to Delhi by the BJP leadership a day before the counting of votes in the Lok Sabha election, people with direct knowledge of the matter told NDTV today. Mr Singh left state capital Imphal by flight at 3.15 pm today, sources said.

His visit to Delhi also comes after floods damaged many areas in Imphal valley and some in the hill districts, leaving the state in need of relief funds.

Speculation is unavoidable due to the timing of the visit; however, it is related to the flood damage and relief funds, a senior official in the Manipur government told NDTV on phone from Imphal.

Sources said some leaders and ministers from the Naga tribes and a few BJP MLAs from the Kuki tribes have also landed in the national capital.

Ten Kuki-Zo MLAs in the 60-member Manipur assembly had renewed their community’s call for a separate land carved out from the state bordering Myanmar, following the breakout of ethnic violence with the Meitei community in May 2023. The Kuki-Zo tribes share ethnic ties with Myanmar’s Chin people.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma – the BJP’s go-to leader for troubleshooting political issues in the northeast region – was scheduled to return to Guwahati from Delhi today, sources said. He will, however, stay back and likely return to Guwahati tomorrow.

Today’s development comes two days after a large number of exit polls forecast a Congress victory in the largely valley-centric Inner Manipur seat. The only other seat, Outer Manipur, is a reserved constituency, and the exit polls predicted a win there by the BJP’s ally Naga People’s Front (NPF).

The Congress candidate is Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, a 57-year-old professor in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who belongs to the Meitei community as the Chief Minister too. Local sentiments amid the Manipur crisis indicate he is the preferred candidate in assembly constituencies where the Congress has been traditionally strong. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had also started the party’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra from an area in Manipur where the party enjoys huge support.

Inner Manipur Congress candidate and JNU professor Angomcha Bimol Singh (file)

Manipur political analysts say Mr Akoijam’s last-minute political plunge has divided the Meitei vote at a time when the community is in an ethnic conflict. BJP leaders have alleged the JNU professor has done more harm to the community than any other leader in recent times.

Mr Singh is likely to discuss the roadmap to peace in Manipur, which the BJP had promised during its Lok Sabha election campaign, sources said.

The Opposition bloc INDIA had made the Manipur ethnic crisis a huge election issue. This was one issue which the INDIA bloc had been using to take swipes at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, despite Home Minister Amit Shah’s rebuttal to the Opposition at every turn.

If the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) wins a third term, as forecast by most exit polls, the Centre is likely to announce a roadmap for peace in Manipur as its first major post-election victory decision, sources said.

The ethnic clashes between the valley-dominant Meiteis and the hill-dominant Kuki-Zo tribes began over cataclysmic disagreements on sharing land, resources, affirmative action policies, and political representation, mainly with the ‘general’ category Meiteis seeking to be included under the Scheduled Tribes category, citing lopsized allocation of social welfare and affirmative action benefits.

Over 220 have died and nearly 50,000 have been internally displaced. Most of them are still living in relief camps.

 Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh has been called to Delhi by the BJP leadership a day before the counting of votes in the Lok Sabha election, people with direct knowledge of the matter told NDTV today.    

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