IMPHAL, Jan 18 � Unlike previous poll campaigns, which were saturated with promises being made at group feasts and meetings, campaigns in Manipur this time is a muted one with political parties wary of being caught on the wrong foot following Election Commission of India (ECI)�s strict guidelines.
�Candidates this time are very careful about expenditure. If you go around in Imphal you will not find any flag or hoarding or wall writing together with expensive public meetings as these add up in their expenditure�, Chief Electoral Officer PC Lawmkunga said on the sideline of a day-long workshop on systematic voters� education and electoral participation, yesterday.
Hoardings of AICC president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with Chief Minister O Ibobi and Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee president Gaikhangnam, Manipur People�s Party president Nimaichand Luwung and Md Alimuddin, all put up in Imphal streets, were recently pulled down.
Stating that candidates can be disqualified if their expenditure exceeded Rs 8 lakh, he added: �Cash over Rs 2.5 lakh being carried by individuals without relevant documents could be seized. But so far there�s no report of any such seizure�.
Altogether 39 observers, including 18 general observers, 12 expenditure observers and nine police observers -the election official termed them as their eyes and ears - have been appointed to ensure proper implementation of the mode code of conduct.
The State election official said that they�ve inducted 350 companies of Central para-military forces as the State police cannot handle the situation. �So far 220 companies have arrived here and the remaining will be arriving by January 25,�he added.
Meanwhile, CorCom, the coordinating committee of seven armed groups operating in Manipur, has warned over 1,800 Congress workers against campaigning for the party.