At one point in time, it appeared like the 11th General Elections to Manipur Legislative Assembly would end up like the previous elections, dull and predictable with a landslide victory for Congress. But the fight was way tougher than expected, and there are even possibilities of Congress facing a disappointing defeat.
Many might have looked up to the Peoples' Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), a new political party floated by popular social activist Irom Sharmila, as a potential party to topple the Congress government. But it turned out to be a squib with no chance of even shoving the present government. Then the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) jumped into the arena and made noise like they meant business and they did.
The new development surprised many as the BJP didn't win even a single seat in the previous elections. Tops leaders of the party like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju visited the state before the elections, sending out a message that they were there not just to give a tough fight, but to win.
The state Congress party leaders roped in its vice-president Rahul Gandhi to counter BJP, but the lotus wave had already reached far and wide. It soon became obvious that BJP has the potential to beat Congress and end current Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh's 15 years' reign in the state.
According to the exit poll conducted by C-Voter, BJP has the chances of winning 25-31 seats. This means BJP may form the next government with its allies or even reach the magic number of 31.
On the other hand, the exit poll by India Today-axis has predicted that Congress will win 30-36 seats, BJP will get 16-22, 3-5 for NPF and others will nab 3-6 seats.
There are contradictory reports on the outcome of the elections, but one thing that nobody can deny is that the BJP is breathing new air into the otherwise lifeless Manipur politics. We can expect a strong opposition party to check the moves of the ruling government, whichever party comes to power.