BJP on Tuesday claimed Congress is not in contention in 20 of the 60 seats in poll-bound Manipur as people have seen through Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh's "game of abetting the state's blockade to polarise votes".
Rejecting speculation that the ongoing blockade has harmed its bid to capture power in the state for the first time, BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, who is handling the state polls, said lotus will bloom there after Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, two states in the region where it is in power. He claimed that Congress was in fight in only 40 seats, which are in the valley, while BJP's main challengers in the 20 hill seats are NPF and other local parties.
He said the Centre had sent 40 additional companies of central forces besides near 45 companies already present there to help the Congress government to break the blockade enforced by Naga groups, but they have not been used so far. While the central government facilitated talks between these groups and the state government, Singh ensured that they failed, Madhav claimed. "He has deliberately done it. We (central government) wanted to help people and airlifted things like petrol and cooking gas cylinders and arranged convoys carrying other essential items.
"Our charge is that the Chief Minister has a vested interest and wants the blockade to continue. Whenever some solution is in sight, he would do something to damage its prospects. People have seen through his game and understand that we have done whatever we can in our capacity to help them," he said. He expressed confidence that his party will win a simple majority in Manipur, where it could not bag a single seat in the last assembly polls.
Six MLAs from different parties have crossed over to its camp in the run-up to the polls, scheduled on March 4 and 8. Asked about Irom Sharmila's allegations that she was offered over Rs 36 crore by BJP to contest election against the Chief Minister, he termed these "malicious and an absolute lie". "Rs 36 crore is not even our election budget," he said.