Thursday, February 2, 2023

Congress, allies hold blindfold protest in Manipur

Alliance leaders allege militants intimidating voters

Correspondent

A blindfold protest staged by Congress-led Manipur Progressive Secular Alliance (MPSA) in Imphal on Friday called upon the Election Commission of India (ECI) to awaken and initiate prompt action while alleging there were no free and fair polls in Manipur.
Blindfolded leaders and members of five political parties – Congress, CPI, CPI-M, RSP, JD-S and Forward Block – took part in the protest staged in Imphal today.
After a sit-in-protest at Imphal Congress Bhavan, the opposition partners took out a rally on the streets along BT Road and formed a human chain in front of the Western Gate of the Kangla Fort.
“ECI, please open your eyes”, read one of the placards displayed during the protest, while others read, “Save democracy save Manipur”, “Stop poll-violence, restore peace,” “Manipur wants free and fair polling,” etc..
Talking to reporters during the protest, MPSA leaders alleged that the BJP in power both at the Centre and in the state murdered democracy even as the ECI remained a silent spectator.
CPI national executive member, Dr M Nara Singh accused the ECI of acting on the behest of the BJP and criticized the poll conducting authority of not conducting the elections in line with the rules and regulations to be followed.
The BJP was terrorizing the voters while the ECI did nothing to stop the rampant violence and intimidation to the voters by the BJP workers, he alleged.
The CPI leader criticized the BJP governments at the Centre as well as in the state for working against the Constitution of the country and indulging in activities that undermined the democracy, secularism and socialism structures of the country.
He alleged that the saffron party shouted for free and fair polls only to eyewash the people and to conceal the true face of the party.
He claimed that the BJP invested over Rs 16 crore on militant groups under suspension of operation (SoO) to terrorize voters in Kuki dominated hill districts and intimidate them if they do not cast their votes in favour of BJP candidates.
The BJP utilized all its money and muscle powers so as to ensure capturing power in the state. The party murdered democracy for the sake of power, he added.
Today’s protest was staged to make people aware of what was going on in the state by the BJP to capture power, he said. A blindfolded MPCC president N Loken Singh alleged the BJP was behind the rampant violence witnessed during the first phase polls and alleged that the BJP was planning to continue the same in the second and final phase poll on Saturday.
“The party (BJP) violated all democracy norms and indulged in poll-violence,” he said, adding that the ruling party not only misused government machinery but also forced the ECI to work on party behalf.
The party also utilized armed cadres of militant groups under SoO to intimidate voters to cast their votes in favour of the BJP.
The MPSA and its constituent parties lodged complaints after complaints to the ECI. However, no prompt action was initiated, he claimed.
“We have lodged many written complaints but no positive response has come up so far. Instead of checking the malpractices in electioneering of the party, the ECI remains as silent spectator. ECI is the same as the blind,” he said, adding that the blindfold protest on Friday was to show the ECI was blind.
He went on to allege that in the Kuki inhabitant hill districts, cadres of armed militants under SoO indulged in booth captures in rampant manner during the first phase of the two-phase polls.
In Henglep AC of Churachandpur district, armed militants captured as many as 23 booths. Candidates of most of the political parties in the fray from the AC demanded re-polls in these polling stations.
They have lodged written complaints to the concerned ROs, DEOs and state CEO as well as to the ECI. But no positive response received from the ECI, he said.
Leaders of the other parties in the alliance and AICC Manipur in-charge Bhakta Charan Das also participated in the protest.

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