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Manipur: Kuki body asks its members to abstain from voting in Lok Sabha polls

Author : IANS

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Imphal, April 16 (IANS) The Kuki Inpi Sadar Hills (KISH), the apex body of the Kuki-Zomi tribal community, on Tuesday directed its members to abstain from participating in the upcoming Lok Sabha election.

Highlighting their unwavering stance and unity, the KISH's publicity wing, in a statement, made it clear that their approach to the Lok Sabha polls is not about "boycotting" but rather opting to "abstain from voting".

The statement stated that given the absence of a candidate from the Kuki-Zomi community in the 18th Lok Sabha Election, efforts were made to select a consensus candidate among the four candidates in the Outer Manipur parliamentary constituency, reserved for the tribals.

"However, consensus could not be achieved. Therefore, in coordination with all stakeholders, acknowledged by the Kuki Inpi Manipur, a unanimous decision was made to abstain from voting in the upcoming election," it said in the statement.

There are four candidates for the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha seat including BJP-backed Naga People’s Front (NPF) nominee Kachui Timothy Zimik. The opposition Congress-led INDIA bloc has fielded Alfred Kanngam S. Arthur in the seat. Both Zimik and Arthur belong to the Naga community.

Two independent candidates, S. Kho John and Alyson Abonmai are also in the fray for the seat, where polling will be held in two phases – April 19 and April 26.

Since the ethnic violence broke out on May 3 last year between the non-tribal Meitei and Kuki-Zomi communities, Manipur has been sharply divided between the Meitei-inhabited valley region and the hills, dominated by the Kuki-Zomi and Naga tribals.

Nagas, however, remained neutral in the ethnic conflict.

Ten tribal legislators, including seven belonging to the BJP, along with all the tribal organisations have been demanding a separate administration (equivalent to a separate state) for the tribals. The riots began after a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe status.

--IANS

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