Manipur: Probe Sought Into BJP Candidate Using 'Armed Groups for Votes'

A plea has been issued to disqualify Benjamin Mate from contesting the April 11 polls for violating the Model Code of Conduct by using armed militant groups to pressurise voters.

New Delhi: The chief electoral officer (CEO) of Manipur has written to the returning officer of the Outer Manipur parliamentary constituency to enquire into a plea to disqualify BJP candidate Benjamin Mate from contesting the polls on April 11 for violating the model code of conduct.

Mate reportedly has been using “KNO (Kuki National Organisation) and other armed militant groups who are under suspension of operation (SOO) with both the state and the central governments” to pressurise voters into supporting him with ballots.

The CEO issued the letter on April 9 following a complaint by Thangminien Kipgen, the candidate from the regional party, the National People’s Party (NPP) to the Election Commission (EC) following reports in the media and elsewhere about it.

Stating that the content of the NPP’s complaint letter was “self-explanatory”, the CEO P.K. Singh said, “The issues/allegations/submissions made in the said representation may kindly be examined and enquired into in consultation with the concerned stakeholders.” He directed the returning officer to send to him his comments “at the earliest” on the issue.

Singh said the chief secretary of the state has already been requested “to put/confine all the armed cadres of KNO/KNA (Kuki National Army) and UPF (United People’s Front) inside their barracks/camps under the terms and conditions of the SOO.

News reports on April 7 said village heads of the constituency “were threatened by KNA to ensure 90% votes are cast for the BJP, otherwise, they will be summoned and held responsible, then punished.” A News18 report said, “Thangboi Haokip, the commander of the KNA, has issued the diktat at a gathering in D Muonnaphai village, Moreh, where the village chiefs were present. Referring to BJP candidate for outer Manipur, HS Benjamin Mate, he warned that if required violence will be resorted to.”