The Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto for the Manipur Assembly released on Thursday, does not make any mention of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, or AFSPA.
The AFSPA gives Army personnel sweeping powers to search, arrest, and to open fire if they deem it necessary for “the maintenance of public order”. Manipur is one of the states where the law is in effect.
The BJP’s decision to not include AFSPA in its manifesto is significant as several organisations as well as the state units of the party in the North East have recently objected to the law and demanded its withdrawal. Last month, Manipur Chief Minister and BJP leader N Biren Singh had also said that “as a Manipuri” he wanted AFSPA to be repealed.
The demand to repeal AFSPA has resurfaced since 14 people were killed by members of security forces in the Nagaland’s Mon district in December. However, since then imposition of the law has been extended till June in Nagaland and till December in Manipur.
In its manifesto for Manipur elections, the BJP has promised to establish an All India Institute Of Medical Science facility in the state. The party has also promised free laptops for all “meritorious” students who have pass the Class 12 exams and scooters for all “meritorious” women who study in colleges.
The BJP said it would provide scholarships to children of small, marginal and landless farmers to pursue technical education at the graduation and post-graduation levels. To promote local tourism, the party has promised cash incentives and subsidies to homestay owners.
Voting in Manipur will be held in two phases on February 28 and March 5. The counting of votes will take place on March 10.