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BJP makes major inroad in Manipur local bodies polls

By The Assam Tribune

Imphal, Jan 17 (IANS): The Congress put up a good show in the municipal council and nagar panchayat elections in Manipur, winning 108 out of the 278 seats for which polling was held on January 11.

It may be noted here that the BJP had no elected member in the Maniour local bodies in the past.

The local body elections were held in 18 municipal councils and eight nagar panchayats to elect 278 councillors and 586 nagar panchayat members in Manipur's four districts of Imphal West, Thoubal, Imphal East, and Bishnupur.

The results were declared late Saturday for 278 municipal council seats, of which the Congress won 108 seats, Bharatiya Janata Party 62, Communist Party of India 2, Lok Janashakti Party 4 and the Independents 102.

Though elections were to be held for 279 seats, one seat remained vacant as no nomination was filed for it.

As the results were being declared, Manipur's Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam and BJP state unit president Thounaojam Chaoba were making claims and counter-claims on their parties' electoral gains in the municipal council and nagar panchayat polls.

Gaikhangam said: "Most of the Independents were fielded by the Congress. The elected Independents have started joining the Congress."

BJP's Chaoba contended that the Congress is on the wane since it could field just 199 candidates. Considering the fact that the BJP had no elected member in these local bodies in the past, winning such a large number of seats is a gigantic stride, he added.

He said: "This shows the unmistakable (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi wave in Manipur. We are certain of wresting the political power from the Congress in the 2017 Assembly elections."

The way the party's position was whittled away shows the growing resentment of the people against the Congress ministry, he added.

Countering Chaoba's attacks before the January 11 polls, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi had said the outcome will establish whether the BJP has made any inroads.

Upbeat by the poll results, Chaoba said: "Now it is clearly proven that the Modi wave has made a landfall in Manipur and that the Congress is on the way out."

Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam brushed aside the BJP contention that the Congress wave is on the wane, saying the Congress is consolidating its strength and will certainly retain power for the fourth Assembly term in 2017.

The BJP, which had no legislator, Parliament member or other elected members in Manipur, first opened account by winning two bypolls tom the Assembly in last November.

The winning of substantial number of seats in the local bodies is a major achievement for the BJP. However, the party is hamstrung by internal bickerings. The BJP has been embroiled in some blame game for its not-so-impressive poll performances. In fact, Chaoba who was to retire late last year, got a new lease till the local body polls. Now there already is a hectic lobbying for the next BJP State unit president.

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