In the high-level meet today, BJP has started parlays on finalizing candidates for the assembly elections in Manipur. Chief Minister N Biren Singh will lead the party’s campaign in the northeastern state for the February-March polls, sources in the party have indicated.
But an Assam template is likely to be followed in Manipur too and the BJP may not name its Chief Ministerial candidate officially to avoid a pre-poll internal feud among party leaders as there is a section of leaders who have been pushing the high-command for a leadership change in the state.
Party sources also added that in a recent virtual meeting Union home minister Amit Shah had also categorically stated that BJP is going to go into the polls under the leadership of Biren Singh.
The selection of candidates is a significant issue for the party as there are 3-4 strong contenders for each constituency, sources added.
Unlike in Assam polls last year where there were two contenders (former Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Himanta Biswa Sarma) for the top post, the templates needed a tweak in Manipur. Biren Singh is the most seasoned, tactful leader that the party has, who can handle political ‘push and pulls’ that are so frequent in Manipur, a top BJP leader handling the Northeast affairs hinted.
Secondly, another contender – Biswajit Singh – is not an as powerful leader, sources have said. Mr Singh has a support base in a section of MLAs and party leaders. There are also leaders like former Education minister Radhyeshyam Thokchom, and Khamchand Singh.
A section of Manipur BJP leaders and MLAs have been upset with Biren Singh’s way of handling the government since 2019.
Chief Minister Biren Singh, the most powerful minister in his cabinet Biswajit Singh, and state party president A Sharda Devi have been camping in New Delhi for the past three days.
In the five years, over 40 per cent of the Congress MLAs have switched to the BJP. But all of them will not get poll tickets, sources added.
The names of BJP candidates for Manipur might be released in three separate lists with the first list which may come out this evening.
The BJP is likely to contest all 60 seats alone, a section of the party wants a pre-poll alliance with Naga People’s Front (NPF) for the Naga tribe-dominated areas. But the party is yet to take a final call on the pre-poll alliance, party sources further added.
Polling will be held in Manipur will be held in two phases starting February 27. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.