Khurai (Manipur): The two main contenders for Khurai Assembly seat are the same and the only difference is they have switched sides this time. Nothing uncommon in the volatile politics of Manipur but will it bring a change of fortune?

The prestigious constituency, just four km from state capital Imphal, will witness a straight fight between sitting MLA N Bijoy Singh of ruling Congress and Ningthoujam Bihari Singh of opposition Manipur State Congress Party (MSCP).

N Bijoy Singh had won the seat in 2007 on Manipur Peoples Party (MPP) ticket defeating Bihari Singh of Congress but now the bitter political rivals have swapped sides.

Bijoy Singh had won in 2007 securing 13,326 votes against 8,118 of Bihari Singh.

With a predominant Metei community voters, veteran Bijoy Singh appears to enjoy advantage over his rival on the basis of development works undertaken by the Congress government in the last decade.

"There is absolute peace and people are moving around freely which is not the case in other areas of the state", Bijoy Singh says as he attends a "flag hoisting" ceremony of Congress at Khurai playground.

Khurai boasts of the best road condition, second only to Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh's home constituency Thoubal.

"We have developed roads and improved civic amenities", Bijoy Singh, a noted educationists and former Vice Chancellor of Manipur University who joined Congress prior to the election, said.

Bihari Singh, who resigned from Congress following differences with the party, charged the government was "doing nothing for the betterment of the people".

"The Congress government's tall claims of development are false. Prices of essential commodities have soared and the poor people are the worst sufferers", he said.

The other contestants in the fray are R K Amusana of CPI and L Brojendra Roy of Trinamool Congress.

Meanwhile, Phungzathang Tongsing, the influential Power Minister of Manipur, is locked in a multi-cornered contest against K Vungzalian of NCP for Churachandpur Assembly constituency.

The others in the fray are P Songlianlal of Trinamool Congress, Thangngam Lhungdum of Shiv Sena and Chintuahlian Gulte, an independent.

Tonging said development programmes taken up by the government will be the main poll plank of his party.

"Although there is militant activity, Manipur is on the path of development", he said.

Tongsing had secured 18233 votes as against 16554 of V Langkhnpao of NCP in 2007.

"Congress has promised to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which has been a demand of the people", he said.

On the frequent power problem resulting in load shedding for as long as 12 hours a day, the minister said several power projects are the cards.

"Our state has tremendous power potential which has to be tapped", he said.

Vungzalian (26) is trying to woo the young voters promising that the unemployment problem will be solved.

"The militancy problem has cropped up due to unemployment and we want to create employment opportunities", he said.

(Agencies)