Imphal, May 5 (IANS): Political parties in Manipur have stepped up campaigning for the June 1 elections to the six Autonomous District Councils (ADC) in the Congress-ruled State.
The Congress, the BJP and the Naga Peoples Front (NPF) are the three main contenders for the 144 seats of the six ADCs of Senapati, Sadar Hills, Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Chandel and Churachandpur districts.
Despite threats and intimidation by militant outfits, most political parties have declared their candidates. The filing of nominations will close on Wednesday.
Presently, the Congress is in majority in all the six ADCs, each with 24 members.
"We will contest in all the six districts. Threats by underground outfits have not deterred us," a Congress leader told IANS.
Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam, who also holds the home portfolio, has accused the NSCN-IM (National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak-Muivah) of threatening outgoing ADC members belonging to the Congress.
The NSCN-IM has been fighting for a "Greater Nagaland" for over six decades. It signed a ceasefire agreement with the central government in August 1997.
The proposed "Greater Nagaland", to be formed by slicing off parts of three neighbouring states to unite 1.2 million Nagas, has been opposed by Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
In view of militant threats, the State Election Commission has opened an office at the Imphal West Deputy Commissioner's office here to receive nomination papers from candidates.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has expressed fears of large-scale violence during campaigning and sought sufficient security for its candidates as well as campaigners.
The June 1 election to the six ADCs is significant because it is being held after 20 years.
The United Naga Council, a frontal organisation of the Nagas, has said that the ADCs have not benefitted the tribals and the State government did not extend adequate powers to ADC members.
Parliament passed the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act in 1971 and the first election to the district councils were held in 1973. Since then, elections in the ADCs have been irregular.