AFSPA Can Be Lifted Gradual With Centre’s Consent, Polls Will Bring About Major Shift: Manipur CM

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New Delhi: Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said on Sunday that the people of his state, including himself, want the Armed Forces Special Powers Act repealed, but only after reaching an agreement with the Centre, as national security is their prime concern.

“I believe AFSPA can be lifted gradually with the consent of the central government. But, we must remember there is no political stability in Myanmar and we share the border with that nation,” the chief minister was quoted by PTI in its report.

The state’s first BJP chief minister further stated that the elections will bring about a major shift and that his party will more than double its seats.

While listing the BJP’s key election platform this time as peace, development, and peaceful coexistence, Singh said, “We are working hard to get a two-third majority. We have no pre-poll alliance but post-poll alliance can be forged if required.”

Repealing the AFSPA, which had sparked numerous protests and demonstrations in the state, including the famous case of Manipur’s Irom Sharmila’s longest fast for any cause, remains a critical issue and may resurface politically in light of the recent killing of 14 civilians in firing by the army personnel in neighboring Nagaland.

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‘As A Manipuri & CM, I Want That AFSPA Should Be Lifted’: N Biren Singh

“We are a border state and share an international border with Myanmar. I have to see the national interest as well. But as a Manipuri and as Chief Minister of Manipur, I want that AFSPA should be lifted,” Singh said.

“But at the same time, it is not possible to do so without assessing the ground situation. Without consulting the central government, it is not possible and desirable,” he added.

“People of Manipur, including me, want that AFSPA should be lifted but after the mutual understanding with the central government as national security is the first priority for us,” he further added.

According to Singh, no big undesirable occurrences have been recorded in the previous five years, and insurgency has decreased by 90%.

Nagaland Killings

In the wee hours of December 4, a unit of the ’21 Para Special Forces’ organized an ambush on suspected NSCN (K) Yung Aung faction cadre near Tiru village, Mon district, and instead of gunning down the suspected militants, it killed eight civilian miners belonging to Oting village who were returning home in a pickup truck.

Following a retaliation by locals, more civilians and a jawan were also killed.

Thirteen of the 14 people killed by army personnel on December 4 and 5 belonged to the Konyak tribe, one of the major tribes of Nagaland. They were killed in three consecutive episodes of firing by security forces, the first of which has been claimed to be a case of mistaken identity.

Manipur Legislative Assembly Election 2022

The tenure of the 60-seat Manipur Legislative Assembly is scheduled to end on March 19, 2022.

Aside from law and order and the long-standing demand to repeal AFSPA, the land-locked state’s economic woes, which have few industries, are expected to dominate the agenda of the ongoing electoral battle between the BJP and Congress, the two main parties, with smaller local parties such as the National People’s Party and the Naga People’s Front cutting in with their own expectations.

Days before the election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Imphal and inaugurated 13 projects worth roughly Rs 1,850 crore, as well as laying the groundwork for nine projects worth another Rs 2,950 crore.

The schedule for the 2022 Manipur Assembly Election is mentioned below with dates for the polls and counting of votes listed according to the ECI notification. The election will be conducted in two phases.

Phase 1: February 27

Phase 2: March 3

Counting Day: March 10

Manipur Legislative Assembly Election 2017

The previous assembly elections were held in March 2017 with the BJP coming to power in the state for the first time.

Even though Congress emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats, eight Congress MLAs left the party later. BJP won 21 seats and formed the coalition government along with National People’s Party (NPP), Naga People’s Front, and Lok Janshakti Party, with N Biren Singh becoming the state chief minister.

The NPP is a key partner of the BJP-led coalition government in Manipur and the party has two ministers in the government, including the deputy chief minister.

(With PTI Inputs)

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