Gearing up for the June 2 IMC polls Litmus test for Cong, BJP

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It may be just about Imphal but the importance of this election can be gauged from the fact that many sees this as the semi-final to the 2017 Assembly election. June 2, 2016 and 27 Wards of the Imphal Municipal Corporation will vote to decide who gets into the Corporation. All eyes will obviously be on the Congress and the BJP. Difficult to say which way the wind will blow, but the importance of this election would not have blown over the heads of the two parties. The stakes are obviously high for both the parties with the BJP fast emerging as the main Opposition party to the Congress which swept the Imphal Municipal polls in 2011 and is on its third consecutive term in power in the State. For the BJP it has to establish itself as the party which can take the fight to the Congress in the 2017 Assembly election and election to the Imphal Municipal Council is obviously going to be its first real test. There may be only seven Assembly segments in Imphal Municipality Corporation, but the showing here will have an impact on how the two parties gear themselves up for the bigger fight, come 2017. This is one reason why the election to the Imphal Municipal Corporation is watched with so much interest. June 2 is still some days away, but the importance of this election can be gauged from how seriously the two political parties have started lobbying for votes for the 27 Municipality seats. With just one MLA in the Imphal Municipality area in the person of Kh Joykishan of Thangmeiband Assembly Constituency, the BJP may be hard pressed to canvass at the grass root level, but the bigger picture will also have an impact. Remember how the BJP managed to rout the Congress in the 2014 Parliamentary election.
This then is the reason why many see the upcoming IMC election as something more than an election to the Municipal Corporation. To many, the coming election will be seen as the curtain raiser to the 2017 Assembly election and in many ways the result of the June 2 election may impact on the Assembly election. The issues may however be a bit different in the sense that municipal elections will tend to be more microscopic. Local issues will have to be addressed and how primed the two parties and their candidates are in addressing local issues may decide the choice of the voters. Local issues and this is understandable for democracy is all about decentralising power and authority. Ideally election to local bodies such as the Municipal Corporation should be about addressing local issues but the bigger picture of the State as well as the country cannot be entirely written off. The State Government will also have to deal with the demand put up by the Joint Committee on Inner Line Permit System, which has gone on record to state that it would be constrained to boycott the election if the names of non-local people are not removed from the electoral lists. How the State Government deal with this may also impact on the 2017 Assembly election and this is why the IMC polls may be seen as the litmus test for the Congress and the BJP.

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