By : Seram Neken
Being a state in complete turmoil, Manipur now needs a competent Chief Minister who is able to bring lasting solutions to its burning issues concerning the very future of its people and the land. The impending threat to the integrity among numerous indigenous groups residing in this land is a matter needing urgent solution, which requires the attention and intervention of the central leadership. Mushrooming homeland demands among the smaller groups in this already small state, which have tended to destabilize the age-old composite existence of various ethnic communities as Manipuris, also call for political solutions with the sincere initiative of the state government coupled with the non-judgmental and balanced attitude of the central leaders. Being a resource scarce state, Manipur is in hectic need of generating a big economic opportunity for its over two million inhabitants by way of establishing a viable and locally adaptable industry. Issues of people’s economic empowerment, emotional and physical integrity of the so called brothers in the hills and the valley, demarcation and safeguard of a concrete state boundary, protection of indigenous peoples and their land from being occupied by outsiders both from other Indian states as well as from neighboring countries like Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal are issues which need urgent intervention of both the state and central leaderships in order to visualize the future of Manipur and the Manipuris.
At this critical juncture, people of Manipur wish to have a sincere and committed government which is able to translate ideas into action. Even at this eleventh hour of the ensuing general election being held at the dawn of next year, any political party has not yet assured its people with a vision in the lines of the aforesaid agenda. Will the Congress party try to retain power by placing sustainable and practicable solutions to state’s burning issues, which it has failed to solve during the last 15 years rule in Manipur ? Or can the BJP which has a powerful and practicable Prime Minister at the national level, pledge a viable solution to these state problems to gain people’s mandate ? Or is there any other political party either national or regional which can foresee a vision for the future of Manipur ? This writer is optimistic enough that if the national leadership of BJP is sincere enough to wrest its position in this border state of Manipur, it will place a specific ‘Vision Document’ for the future of Manipur in front of state’s voters before the coming state elections. Otherwise, usual pre-poll oratory and election time promises of the state politicians will not defuse the existing trust-deficit among the electors. When the people of Manipur, who have long been toiling amid problems of all hues, can visualize a constructive and viable future for their land and people, they will automatically give mandate to whichever party or whoever leader that can do so. The so called money power and muscle power will no longer work, if strong agendas with practicable solutions come out from the leaders and political parties. Elections will become more meaningful with the electors becoming politically conscious of their future.
In what could well be anticipated as a trend setter in Manipur polity, a seasoned politician from the ruling Congress party recently resigned from the membership of both the State Legislative Assembly and the Congress party by placing bigger state issues in the forefront, instead of dwelling on personal political opportunism. His first agenda set by former Congressman N Biren is to implement an Act which protects the state’s land from being occupied by outsiders before the operationalization of ‘Act East Policy’. The move is to prevent powerful and affluent companies from occupying the state’s land for their business. Secondly, the former cabinet minister demands a political solution restricting the free movement and operation by armed groups under SoO and ceasefire agreements. Thirdly, development of national highways to the level of four-lane and to ensure security by engaging Highway Protection Force. Fourthly, non-disturbance of state boundary and administration in the process of political negotiations with armed insurgent groups. Lastly, he proposes framing of a topographical budget for the hills to bring about balanced development of the state. Even though the former Congressman missed to cite any point on economic empowerment of Manipur, the fairer part of his move is that he even opts to shun politics, if any of the political parties fails to respond to his five point agenda.
Now the pertinent question is ‘which political party is ready to accept his bargain’, which is in fact a vision for a future Manipur. No mature and considerate political party can take such a people’s agenda from a seasoned politician as a simple pre-poll oratory. It needs indepth analysis and a viable framework for solution, before the party concerned decides to garland the leader and elevate him as its game-changer in Manipur politics. Manipur in the recent past has not seen such a leader as N. Biren who has all set to sideline personal gains in favour of the bigger issues concerning the future of Manipur. It is well be presumed that the top brass of BJP at the national level is now taking time preparing responses to Mr. Biren’s five point agenda. If the BJP is able to provide feasible and practicable answers to the five agenda set by the resigned MLA before the eyes and ears of the voters, BJP’s position in Manipur will get an abrupt uplift. If the BJP embraces Mr. Biren and his visions as its election agenda, it may be hoped that former Congress Minister will be a game changer not only in Manipur polity, but also of the state BJP. Moreover, the state BJP is sure to garner sizeable position when politicians like Mr. Biren assume a leading role in its election campaigns.
MANIPUR NEEDS A GAME-CHANGER
By : Seram Neken