Encourage People From Manipur Living Outside To Vote In State: Delhi Meitei Forum

A civil society group based in Delhi and run by working professionals from Manipur has appealed to people from the crisis-hit state who are living across the country to return home, if they can, to participate in the electoral process in the world’s largest democracy.

Manipur has two Lok Sabha seats – Inner Manipur, and a reserved seat, Outer Manipur. The Lok Sabha elections will be held in the state that’s recovering from ethnic clashes between the Kuki-Zo tribes and the Meiteis, and where over 45,000 people are still living in relief camps.

“We would like to appeal to everyone from Manipur, from all communities, who are living outside the state to go to Manipur and cast their vote in this Lok Sabha election,” the civil society group Delhi Meitei Forum (DMF) said in a statement.

“Travel to Manipur is expensive, so we understand that’s a roadblock. However, whoever can afford to go to Manipur should participate in the electoral process in the world’s largest democracy,” said the DMF, which has been proving aid and other humanitarian relief to internally displaced people in Manipur.

“Choosing a good leader is the need of the hour more than ever, a leader who can solve the Manipur crisis and bring peace for all communities,” a key member of the DMF said.

The DMF said it is a “completely independent group” working for the well-being of the Meitei community, and asked other civil society groups not to include its name as a partner or a member in their activities. DMF sources said they have seen some groups using the DMF name as a partner in their communication to the authorities, which should not be done to avoid legal issues.

Another group, the Delhi Meitei Coordinating Committee (DMCC), had in a statement said it has written to the Chief Justice of India, the Chief Election Commissioner, and other constitutional authorities to defer the Lok Sabha elections in Manipur. The DMCC had mentioned the DMF is part of the DMCC “conglomeration”, which DMF sources said is simply wrong.

The Inner Manipur constituency will see a massive electoral battle among candidates who all have wide acceptance among the public, leaving voters spoilt for choices.

The BJP has fielded Manipur Education Minister and former Indian Police Service officer Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh, and the Congress has fielded Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, who is a professor in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. This would be Mr Akoijam’s first electoral contest. Maheshwar Thounaojam of the Republican Party of India (Athawale) is also giving a spirited fight.

The BJP is not contesting in Outer Manipur, but supporting Kachui Timothy Zimik, a candidate of the BJP’s ally Naga People’s Front (NPF). The Congress has fielded Alfred Kanngam S Arthur in this constituency.

The entire Inner Manipur constituency and some areas under Outer Manipur will vote on April 19. The remaining areas under Outer Manipur will vote on April 26. Votes will be counted on June 4.

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