Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Manipur Voters Reject NDA, Elect Congress in Backlash Against Mishandling of Ethnic Violence

In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has secured victory in both seats in Manipur, which were previously held by the National Democratic Alliance.
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Representative ImagePic- Tribune India

New Delhi- The Lok Sabha election results are in and the citizens have made decisive choices. Amongst all the hullabaloo, the verdict in the case of the state of Manipur is important. The Congress winning these seats, both of which were formerly held by the National Democratic Alliance, marks a significant political shift in Manipur amid the ongoing ethnic conflict.

The elections for the two seats in Manipur were held in two phases on April 19 and 26, mere days before the state commemorated a full year since the ethnic clashes began.

As of May 3, 2024, government figures report that the violence has resulted in 221 deaths and the displacement of 60,000 people. Additionally, 4,786 houses have been burned, and 386 religious structures, including temples and churches, have been vandalized.

The conflict in Manipur has starkly divided the state along ethnic lines. The Meiteis, who constitute the majority of the electorate in the Inner Manipur seat, and the Kuki-Zomis, along with the Nagas, who are predominant in the Outer Manipur seat reserved for tribals, have been embroiled in a bitter struggle.

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This election saw both communities rallying behind the Congress, driven by widespread dissatisfaction with the BJP-led central and state governments' handling of the conflict.

Manipur, which has two Lok Sabha seats - Inner Manipur and Outer Manipur - saw the Congress party secure victories in the results declared on Tuesday, June 4th.

In the Inner Manipur seat, Congress candidate Angomcha Bimol Akoijam received 374,017 votes, while the BJP's Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh, who finished second, garnered 264,216 votes.

Similarly, in the Outer Manipur seat, Congress candidate Alfred Kan-Ngam Arthur obtained a total of 384,954 votes, defeating the Naga People's Front candidate Kachui Timothy Zimik, who received 299,536 votes.These victories reflect a strong desire for change and a repudiation of the current administration.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in a bid to retain its influence, contested the Inner Manipur seat while extending support to the Naga People’s Front (NPF) candidate for the Outer Manipur seat, a seat the NPF had previously won in 2019.

However, the BJP's efforts were met with fierce resistance. The community’s discontent was palpable, particularly towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had not visited the state despite the ongoing turmoil.

The anger was not only directed at the national leadership but also at the state level. Chief Minister N. Biren Singh of the BJP had become hugely unpopular, with many blaming him for exacerbating the situation.

His perceived ineffectiveness and the central government's apparent indifference allowed armed non-state actors to roam freely, creating a sense of lawlessness in Imphal, the capital city.

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“There was a sense of joy that was felt throughout the lanes of Imphal yesterday,” Santa Khurai, a transgender activist told The Mooknayak.

She added that people across the state have recognized the divisive nature of the BJP's politics and have rejected it. According to her, when Arthur began campaigning in Outer Manipur, false narratives were spread in an attempt to indirectly coerce people into voting for NDA candidates, but this effort ultimately failed.

“We have lost trust with the BJP government because we saw how they handled the ethnic clash.”

The activist also highlighted the solidarity she experienced among other transgender individuals, noting an unspoken commitment within the community to unite and vote the NDA out.

Kumam Davidson, a resident of Moyrong, approximately 40 km from Manipur's capital, expressed to The Mooknayak his views on the Lok Sabha election results: "The people have won. The people of Manipur expressed their discontent and voted for peace."

In Manipur, where the BJP is in power, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh faced widespread anger from both communities during the violence. It is believed that by supporting the opposition amid discontent, insecurity, pain, and unrest, the people have signaled their desire to return to a time of peace and prosperity.

Mary Hamer, a social activist from the Kuki-dominated Churachandpur area, stated, "We have received the people's mandate to protect our rights, uphold secularism, and reclaim freedom of speech and expression. Now, the BJP in the state will recognize our presence. This is the will of the Almighty God."

This election was more than just a political contest; it was a referendum on the handling of a humanitarian crisis. The emotional toll of the conflict has been immense, with families torn apart and communities living in fear.

The victory of Congress is seen as a beacon of hope by many, a sign that their voices have been heard amidst the chaos.

This shift in power is not just a political win for Congress but a poignant reminder of the people’s resilience and their demand for peace and effective governance.

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