Congress leader Jairam Ramesh Thursday accused the BJP-led government in Manipur of paying Rs 15.70 crore to some banned militant groups under Suspension of Operations (SoO) to “ensure” the first phase of assembly elections in two districts on February 28 were “not free, fair and peaceful”.
An additional amount of Rs 92,65, 950 was also released on March 1 to influence the elections in the second phase on March 5, he alleged.
The Congress leader tweeted, “In a shocking violation of the Model of Conduct the Union Home Ministry & BJP State Govt in Manipur released ₹15.7 crores on 1.2.22 & further ₹92.7 lakhs on 1.3.22 to banned militant groups under Suspension of Operation(SoO). This has made a mockery of elections in 4 districts!” Ramesh told reporters that the objective of the instalment given on February 1 was to influence voting in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts, where elections were held on February 28.
He alleged that the payment on March 1 is to influence voting in Tengnoupal and Chandel districts on March 5.
Claiming that “the payment came from the home ministry and home department”, the Congress leader said it is “a complete violation of the Election Commission’s model code of conduct and is nothing but bribery, corruption.
“It shows the principles of the double-engine BJP government. These payments have taken place when the majority of state government employees have not received salaries for two months, mid-day meal cooks have not been paid for 18 months, majority of former state government employees have not received their pensions in the last six months and almost all pensioners have not received their retirement benefits.” Despite attempts to contact Manipur government officials for reactions, comments were not readily available.
The allegation comes at a time when non -BJP parties were demanding repolling in the districts of Churachandpur and Kangpokpi on grounds of booth capturing, destruction of EVMs at several polling stations and proxy voting by armed militant groups.
The Election Commission, during the day, ordered repoll in 12 polling stations of five assembly constituencies. Earlier on February 23, Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a poll rally at Churachandpur had announced if the people voted for the BJP, the government would solve the Kuki insurgency issue On February 25, the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) had announced in a statement for those in “their operational area” to support BJP candidates .
Acting against it would be termed as going against the Kuki issue, the KNO had said.