They were known to be die-hard supporters of their respective parties but just ahead of Manipur elections they switched sides and were now faced with a strange predicament of explaining their stand to the voters.
The turncoats contesting on tickets of either Congress or BJP, for the forthcoming Assembly polls, were facing a peculiar situation, with party workers in certain parts unwilling to work for them in the polls.
“Why should we work for a person who has come from Congress? We have been fighting all our life against the Congress and its misrule,” a BJP leader from Lamlei constituency said.
The Congress too was facing such a situation in some of the seats where they have fielded former BJP leaders. They also have leaders from TMC and other parties in their list.
A section of leaders, both in the Congress and BJP, echoed, that a section of masses was apprehensive about the turncoats as till a few days back, they were busy beating trumpets in favour of their parent party.
Both the candidates' list of Congress and BJP, two arch rivals in Manipur elections, have several turncoats in their lists who were earlier either with Congress or BJP or some other parties but had switched sides just months before the forthcoming Assembly polls.
The BJP list has the names of the highest number of defectors from other parties and Congress ranks second in terms of giving tickets to turncoats.
“I joined BJP because the Congress and Manipur chief minister Ibobi Singh have been fooling the people for the last so many years. This year too, Ibobi Singh tried to play dirty politics by bifurcating districts which led to this economic blockade and he is trying to cash on it,” N Biren Singh, BJP candidate from Heingang constituency, told PTI.
N Biren Singh is one of the six Congress leaders and MLAs who had joined BJP few months back and is one of the front-runners for the post of chief minister, if BJP comes to power in the strife-torn state.
A newspaper editor-turned-politician N Biren Singh was Ibobi Singh’s “right-hand man” during his Congress days.
The BJP has fielded the six former Congress leaders and MLAs who had switched loyalty to the party from the Congress.
The six of them include former ministers N Biren Singh, Yumkham Erabot Singh and Francis Ngajokpa and MLAs Dr Kh Loken, Z Kikhonbou Newmai and Nemcha Kipgen in next month’s elections.
The Congress list also has few such candidates who had joined from BJP, TMC and other parties few months back.
“We joined Congress as we wanted to save our state from the divisive politics of BJP. They have joined hands with divisive forces and our territorial integrity is at stake,” Congress candidates KH Joykishan told PTI.
While taking on the issue of defection from Congress and party giving tickets to turncoats, state Congress president T N Haokip said,” BJP was in touch with more than 20 of our MLAs. They tried to lure them with the promise of Chief Ministership and other promises. But the BJP managed to take only six of our leaders and MLAs. We also got back at them by taking six of their leaders”.
Haokip, however, agreed that switching loyalties is a trend in Manipur politics.
State BJP president K Bhabananda Singh said, “People from various walks of life are joining BJP as they want to be part of development that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started. So how can we stop someone from joining us?”.