Stability helps Cong return to power in Manipur

Imphal: The desire for stability in the face of political turbulence was a major reason that contributed to the return of the Congress to power in Manipur for a third time under O Ibobi Singh.

The stability plank in the north-eastern state, where an 11-party alliance was formed to prevent Congress from coming back to the helm, paid rich dividends for the party which got a final tally of 42 in the 60-member House.

Manipur had witnessed unstable governments in the past lasting even for just three or four months since it attained statehood in 1972. Like in Assam, it is now three times in a row for Congress in the insurgency-affected state.

Political observers recalled that during the days of frequent changes in government, people did not get their salary and development works were hampered.

As the verdict became clear, Chief Minister Ibobi Singh maintained that the people had made it clear that there was no other choice other than the Congress. Even prior to the polls, he had expressed confidence that the party would win between 35 and 45 seats.

The demand for withdrawal of the Armed Force Special Powers Act from various areas in the state apparently did not play a major role when it came to the voters exercising their franchise.

Except for the Congress, the rest of the political parties had stated that they would work for withdrawal of the Act if they were voted to power.

But, the Congress had made it clear that the party would withdraw the Act only when the law and order situation improved in the state.

The poll verdict hit hard parties like the Manipur People`s Party (MPP) and the Nationalist Congress Party which had formed the People`s Democratic Front. While the MPP failed to open its account, the NCP got only one seat.

However, the Trinamool Congress put up a credible show bagging seven seats in the assembly and becoming the major opposition.

Another factor that went in Congress` favour was the promise of the leadership including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi that the territorial integrity of Manipur would not be disturbed, a sensitive issue in the hill state.

The CPI, which had bagged five seats in 2002 and four in 2007, could not get even one seat. Prior to the elections, the party had joined the opposition alliance.

The observers felt that insurgency in Manipur "no longer" played a key role when it came to balloting and that was clear from the poll verdict.

Congress, which secured a two-third majority in the House, improved significantly on its previous tally of 31 by gaining 11 more seats.

However, celebrations following the landslide win were restrained apparently in the wake of a threat from the insurgent groups.