Small, new parties bank on core issue of Manipuri identity

Imphal
2 Mar 2017

With the BJP and the Congress locking horns over the economic blockade and Naga Accord ahead of the Manipur assembly polls, the state's new and smaller parties are stressing on local issues and hope to play a decisive role in case of a fractured mandate.
Political outfits like National Peoples Party (NPP), Irom Sharmila's Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), Manipur National Democratic Front and All India Trinamool Congress feel that Congress and BJP can never work for the state's development as they don't stress on the core issues. According to them, the two national parties have a mindset that is "bereft of any passion for Manipuri identity". The newly-formed PRJA, besides its focus on repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, is seeking the amendment of the 'Manipuri Official Language Act, 1979' to replace the Bengali script with an indigenous one as an official script through public consultation and consensus building among all ethnic groups.
"Both BJP and Congress are only busy in mudslinging and are trying to divert the attention of the voters. None of the political parties are keen on reviving Manipuri culture and tradition by introducing an indigenous script for Manipuri people. We don't want the Manipuri script to become a lost heritage," a senior PRJA leader told news agency PTI. The party is contesting from three seats with Irom being one of the marquee candidates. NPP, which is the main opposition party in Meghalaya and is contesting from 21 seats in the Manipur polls, is stressing on social welfare schemes and reservation of seats for the north east region in institutes of higher studies in the country.
"The students from the North-East face lots of problems and hardships while pursuing higher studies in other parts of the country. So we feel that there should be reservation for students of the region in the all India institutes. If we are able to be part of the next government we will try to pursue this demand," NPP general secretary Vivek Raj Wangkhem said. State outfit Manipur Peoples Party has pledged to protect the territorial integrity and identity of original ethnic groups of Manipur and preserve its identity and tradition. The party has also demanded that a Manipur Regiment of the army be established in the state.