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Assam polls: BJP woos Manipuris in Lakhipur constituency

By The Assam Tribune

Imphal, March 31 (IANS): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is betting on Manipuris settled in Assam to win Lakhipur assembly constituency in Barak Valley which will vote on April 4.

The party has not only fielded a Manipuri candidate, Lairikyengbam Thoiba, in Lakhipur, but has also sent a team from its Manipur unit, led by legislator Khumukcham Joykishan, to canvass the voters in the Barak Valley.

"This is the defining moment. Thoiba is going to win this seat," Joykishan told IANS on Thursday over phone from Lakhipur.

Out of Lakhipur's 140,000 registered voters, about 50,000 are Manipuris, RK Shivachandra, the spokesman of the BJP's Manipur unit, told IANS.

In the past, three Manipuris were elected in the Assam Assembly from Lakhipur constituency, he said. "That was 35 years ago. This time Thoiba will win hands down. The way our party has given ticket to a Manipuri in Assam will go a long way in BJP's advance in not only Assam but also Manipur," Shivachandra said.

The BJP team from Manipur has been conducting house-to-house election campaign in the constituency, which represents one of the 15 seats in the Barak Valley in the 126-member Assam Assembly.

The Barak Valley has three districts -- Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi -- with Silchar as its nerve centre.

Manipuris in Lakhipur, Sonai and Udharbond constituencies have given the visiting BJP team a warm welcome, said Joykishan, who has become the first lawmaker from Manipur visiting these parts in Assam for electioneering.

"I tell them (Manipuris) to preserve their culture and tradition. And they realise that the people in Manipur have not neglected them," Joykishan said.

After electioneering in the Barak Valley, the BJP team from Manipur will go the Brahmaputra Valley which is going to polls on April 11, Shivachandra said.

"The team will first go to Hojai where there are a large number of Manipuris. They will also go to Manipuri Basti in the Guwahati city and other Manipuri villages," he said.

Thounaojam Chaoba, president of the BJP's Manipur unit, said: "The Congress in Assam would be rejected this time by the people. The outcome in Assam will have a direct bearing on the elections in Manipur in February next near."

Chaoba alluded to the opinion polls that suggest that the Congress, which has been in power in Assam for three consecutive terms, may be decimated this time.

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