Imphal: The campaigning for 18 municipal councils and eight nagar panchayats spread over 40 assembly segments in the four valley districts of Manipur came to an end on Saturday.
The polls will be held on Monday.
Though there was no official report of pre-poll violence, there were reports at some places of minor incidents including alleged firing at a political worker. But police said no FIR was lodged about any major incident. State Home Minister Gaikhngam said: "Security measures have been taken up to ensure an incident-free polling. All licensed guns have been collected and additional forces deployed in the valley districts. We hope there will be no untoward incident."
The neck and neck fight is between the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The local body elections are crucial for both the parties. The outcome will forecast the beginning of the end of the Congress, which has been in power for the third consecutive term, if it cannot win the working majority.
At the same time, it will also indicate whether the BJP can wrest the political power from the Congress. There are 279 seats. The BJP is fielding 181 candidates while the Congress is fighting 199 seats. The BJP has been without a legislator or MP for a long time and in by-polls held at the Hiyanglam constituency, held on October 17, 2014, the BJP candidate lost to the Congress. It was despite the fact that since the constituency had just 24,492 voters the BJP candidate Dhanabir Maibam had to secure just a few thousands of votes as there were five candidates.
In November 2015 by polls, the BJP won both seats at Thangmeiband and Thongju. The party then said in the March 2017 elections it will come to power.
PCC president Gaikhangam, who is also the deputy chief minister, said: "There was no BJP wave. The victory was due to some factors." It is no accident that as in all past elections the national leaders of the BJP have been coming to Imphal.
But they always make a point to be closeted with the BJP state president Thounaojam Chaoba and other stake holders in the party office.
Sources said that elections matters topped the agenda.
Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh said: "The Congress is the oldest party associated with every event of the country. People in Manipur support it and that is why this party created political record as the only one which has been in power for over 14 years."
Deputy Chief Minister and PCC President Gaikhangam said: "There is no (Narendra) Modi wave in Manipur."
BJP state president Chaoba has been concentrating on the alleged corruptions under the Congress "misrule".
"If the party wins, corruptions of all sorts in general and the Rs 400 crore scam in clearing the water hyacinth in the Loktak lake will be exposed and the corrupt elements sent to jail," he said.
Chaoba said: "The Congress government is dividing the elected members. A member of the Municipal Council gets an honorarium of Rs 3000 per month and a Nagar Panchayat member Rs 1500. On the other hand, a member of the ADC equivalent of the Municipal Council member in the hills gets Rs.10,000 per month."
The Chief Minister said: "In a small place like Manipur, people know who is corrupt and not. There is no wrong doing and that is why no inquiry was ordered."