Women poorly represented in Manipur polls
A report from Imphal said that though women voters outnumbered men in the electoral rolls in Manipur, only a small number of them had figured in the candidate lists of political parties for the upcoming State Assembly elections. The total number of voters in the State was around 19 lakh and the number of women voters was much higher than men. Women played an important role in Manipuri society but the number of women candidates put up by the political parties was far less when compared to that of men. The ruling Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party which were the main contenders in the upcoming polls had fielded only two candidates each. The TMC which came out with a list 24 candidates also had two women candidates. Human rights activist Irom Sharmila’s Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), contesting from three seats had fielded two women, including herself. The National People’s Party (NPP) had fielded only one woman out of their 21 candidates.
The Manipur polls
A report from Imphal said that a total of 168 candidates were left in the fray for the first phase of polls in Manipur in 38 Assembly constituencies. The 38 hill and valley constituencies out of 60 would go to polls on March 4. There were 11 independents in the first phase. The BJP was the only party which was contesting all seats. There was no Congress candidate in the Churachandpur and the Kangpokpi constituencies. Most of the constituencies would see straight fights. However, 11 candidates were in the fray in the Saikul constituency. Manipur’s political heavyweight Phungzathang Tonsing, who was given a Congress ticket for the Churachandpur constituency, had resigned from the primary membership of the party. There was pressure on some tribal politicians not to contest on the Congress ticket.
All Manipur Students' Union tells parties to declare pact stand
A report from Imphal said that the All Manipur Students' Union (AMSU) had set Monday as the deadline for political parties contesting the Assembly elections to announce their stance on the demand for disclosure of the contents of the framework agreement signed between the Centre and the NSCN (Isak-Muivah). Manipur will go to polls on March 4 and March 8. The AMSU, an influential student organisation in the state, had been agitating in support of the demand for making public the framework agreement signed in New Delhi on August 3, 2015. "All the parties should announce their stand on the demand for announcing all details of the agreement by Monday. If they fail to do so, they will face public ire," an AMSU spokesperson Wangkheimay-um Rimakant, said. As part of the campaign, students under the banner of AMSU formed human chains in and around Imphal - along the major thoroughfares at Canchipur and Imphal-Kanchup road in Imphal West and Lamlong market in Imphal East. Women vendors also took part in a demonstration. After the human chain, the students and women vendors took out a march, shouting slogans like "Long live Manipur", "Make public framework agreement" and "No break up of Manipur". The union had launched its movement, Campaign for Protection of Historical and Political Identity of Manipur.
Centre to be approached for funds for autonomous district councils
A report from Shillong said that the Forum of Councils Under Sixth Schedule (Focuss), a conglomerate of autonomous district councils in the Northeast, had decided to approach the Centre regarding the reduction of funds for councils in the region. During 2015-2016, the Centre had earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for all district councils in the Northeast. In 2016-2017, the Centre had again allocated Rs 1,000 crore, but as the councils had still to utilise the budget allocated in 2015-2016, the Centre reduced it from Rs 1,000 crore to just Rs 1 crore. In the Union budget this year, the Centre had earmarked Rs 500 crore for 2017-18 under "grants to autonomous councils and areas covered under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution". The Focuss meeting was attended by various chief executive members (CEMs) and executive members of district councils from across the Northeast. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) chief executive member and Focuss Chairman P.N. Syiem said the forum had resolved to move the NDA government at the Centre and submit a memorandum to reconsider the budget allocated for the councils in the region.