MOIRANG: Still not officially open to the public after it was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the INA memorial here, where the flag of the Indian National Army was first flown on April 14, 1944, has attracted “VIP visitors” and political workers who pay floral tributes before setting off on the campaign trail.
Away from the nation’s capital Delhi, where the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose caused buzz in January, people in the main market in this small town, located just yards from the INA memorial, are busy juggling earning a living and participating in electoral activities, with little time to celebrate the iconic freedom fighter.
The development and welfare of young people and women top the wishes of voters, who believe that Moirang constituency has lagged despite a rich cultural heritage and excellent tourism potential.
“This election is not about voting for a party. It is about supporting who will bring development, especially infrastructure such as roads, to Moirang. I am sad that our constituency has fallen behind over the years in terms of development,” said Longjam Ongbi. Ibemcha, a fruit seller at the market here.
A mother of three, supporting their higher education outside of Manipur, she said, “People should also vote for this candidate who will bring welfare to young people and women.
Expressing similar views, Moirangthem Prabha, who sells clothes in the market, said: “The background of applicants is a good indicator. I would pick mine based on who did the most work, especially for the women here at the market.
Recalling the days when there was no proper infrastructure in the market and women vendors had to struggle during the rainy season, she said, “Now at least we don’t worry about roofs that are leaking, but the market must grow.
When asked if the steps taken by the Center to honor Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, such as plans to install his statue at India Gate, would impact their decision, Ibemcha said, “We appreciate the importance of the INA memorial, but this election is about our well-being.”
Agreeing with her, L Bankimchandra, who drives an electric rickshaw, said: “I have never been inside the memorial, but I appreciate its significance. This is one of the reasons why the outside world may recognize Moirang, but when it comes to voting, we have to choose who would work for us, our development.”
Moirang constituency goes to the polls on February 28 and will witness a three-way struggle between the BJP, Congress and the National People’s Party.
Incumbent MP Pukhrem Sharatchandra Singh, who won the BJP ticket last term, is running as the Congress candidate this time while former Congressman Mayormbam Prithviraj Singh is the BJP candidate, along with Thongam Shanti Singh of the National People’s Party the third candidate in the fray.
At the INA memorial, a contractor who asked not to be identified said the landmark itself needed attention and was in desperate need of proper care.
“There is no one to take care of the garden and take care of the plants at the moment. We don’t have enough people to keep the museum, library and other structures neat and clean,” the official said. man who serves as a guide at the museum. museum apart from the sale of tickets and the cleaning of the premises.
Regarding the elections, he said, “It’s hard to say who’s going to win, but I’ve seen people from different political parties come here to the memorial and pay floral tributes before they start their rallies. elections. As a worker here, it doesn’t feel good when people do such things.”
Officially, the memorial is not yet open to the public after it was closed due to the pandemic, he said, adding, “Yes, out-of-town VIPs, especially those from the forces here, come and ask to see the museum. Emotionally, it’s hard to tell them no.”