A candidate drawing a lot of attention in Manipur is Thounaojam Brinda, a 2012 batch former cop who named the chief minister in a drug scandal and is now contesting on a Janata Dal (United) ticket from Yaskul constituency.
She is taking on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran Thokchom Satyabrata Singh.
Brinda as she began her campaigning at 6am, going door-to-door to convince voters why she is a better choice. Micro meetings, she says, are key to her campaign.
When asked if voted to power, what would her priority be, Brinda has a clear answer: “Stopping the drug cartel.”
Excerpts from the interview:
From being a cop to now a politician, why the switch?
Manipur is our precious responsibility, we can’t let her alone. We can’t let her down. We have to do something for a better future.
Are you taking the plunge because the government took steps against you?
My fight is against corruption and somebody has to stand up and fight. So here I am. My fight is against corrupt governance. Manipur is small state, and we need to protect the people at all costs.
Why did you pick JD (U)?
It is an untested party in Manipur and has some of the most credible candidates. There is no strong political party in the opposition. That is why we need JD (U) here.
What are the issues here?
For ages, misrule has become normal in Manipur. People have been let down by successive governments. We have to save Manipur.
What were the issues you faced as a policewoman?
Before I joined service, I was an activist. I did not join politics for money or power. I want to understand how things work and what is wrong with the government. I fought with the government and I won. I had hoped for improvement, but the situation only worsened.
What do you think about the drugs scandal?
Manipur is border state. The drug cartel is running through Manipur, but no action is taken. The entire northeast suffering.
Why are there so few women candidates in the state?
Contractors fund candidates, thieves control everything, so we lag behind despite having the potential. You need money and muscle power in an election.