Politics

Manipur Poll Result Throws Up Some Surprise Wins and Losses

Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh won for the fourth time, while his contender, Irom Chanu Sharmila, and other members of her recently launched party, faced tough losses.

Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh. Credit: PTI

Okram Ibobi Singh. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Even as the final results of the assembly elections in Manipur held in two phases on March 4 and March 8 continue to trickle in, the people’s mandate has already led to a few surprise wins and losses in the state.

The chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh won for the fourth time from Thoubal by a whopping 18,649 votes – and may join Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling as one of the longest serving chief ministers, if his party succeeds to form the next government. Also, his deputy, Gaikhangam Gangmei, won the Nungba seat, defeating BJP contender Adim Pamei. The Congress president T.N. Haokip also managed to hold on to the Saikot seat.

Yet another Congress stalwart-turned-National People’s Party candidate from Churachandpur, Phungzathang Tonsing, lost to the BJP’s V. Hangkhanlian, indicating that the people of Churachandpur town, which saw widespread violence in 2015 that led to the death of nine young people, have not forgiven Tonsing for not quitting the party at the time.

Congress MLA Manga Vaiphei, whose house was burnt by protesters after three controversial bills were passed by the Congress government on August 31, 2015, lost to BJP’s T.T. Haokip in Henglep.

However, another Congress MLA whose house in Churachandpur was also burnt in that violence, V. Valte, won the Thanlon seat as a BJP candidate.

Interestingly, two of the prominent BJP faces in the state, Th. Chaoba Singh, the former party president, and spokesperson M. Asni Kumar, have lost the contest. This raises an important question: who will be the BJP’s chief minister if the party manages to cobble up the magic number of 31 to form the next government. Will it be the party’s lone MLA, Th. Biswajit Singh?

In the run-up to the polls, party president Bhabananda Singh had told The Wire, “I am not a contender for the CM’s post.”

BJP state party general secretary and the sole MLA Th. Biswajit Singh. Credit: Amanat Khullar

BJP state party general secretary and the sole MLA Th. Biswajit Singh. Credit: Amanat Khullar

Some of the other important losses for the BJP in the hills were of Sword Vashum from the Chingai seat, Somatai Shaiza from Ukhrul, Francis Ngajokpa from the Tadubi seat, Z. Kikhonbou Newmai from the Tamei seat, for which senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh specially campaigned in the constituency.

Irom 1

Irom Sharmila. Credit: Akhil Kumar

Another big loss was of the political party that human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila launched just months ago to contest these elections – the Peoples Resurgence and Justice Party. None of the three candidates, including Sharmila, managed to win a seat on March 11.