Is the connect between Election and the poor lost ?
By : Seram Neken
While the ruling Congress government is engaging in hectic eleventh hour recruitment drive as a pre-poll gimmick and the state BJP on the other hand is in severe headache over ticket distribution for the ensuing election, the premature-born regional parties are waiting for the fish to die in order to tie the knot for a marriage of convenience. It is too early to comment on whether ‘there will be massive change of guard’ in Manipur polity.
Speculations, however, of a new BJP government in the state after the ensuing general elections are ripe as far as the huge support witnessed during the recent visit of BJP president Amit Shah to Imphal, and the apparent success of the general strike imposed by state BJP against the arrest of its two MLAs in connection with the police recruitment issue are concerned. It is obvious that BJP has gained popularity in Manipur in the aftermath of Narendra Modi’s sweeping win in the last Lok Sabha polls, and also coinciding with the much-talked about the dictatorial attitude of Okram Ibobi’s leadership. An overview of the pre-poll scenario reveals that majority of the general people are on the side of the Saffron camp, as is evident from the simple observation that almost all assembly constituencies of Manipur, excepting Thangmeiband and Thongju segments, have at least 3 candidates aspiring to get BJP ticket. A few constituencies in Imphal valley has even 6 to 7 BJP candidates who are all considered fit to contest and have also been working for the party for the last few years since BJP rose to power in the centre. However, the apparent headache among the BJP top-fold must surely be the crucial decision for party tickets. As for instance, in a particular constituency, seven BJP ticket aspirants are going parallel in party works now. As only one among them is destined to contest from BJP ticket, what will the remaining six candidates do ? Will they remain loyal to the BJP, or shift party affiliation to fight elections. The answer is obvious that most of them will fight elections from one or the other party or as independent candidates. Then, it is speculative for sure that the BJP votes currently under calculation will automatically get divided into pieces, and the advantage will go to the rival party. Hence, it is opined in many circles that ‘too many aspirants will spoil the BJP’s dream for a change of guard’. But, if the state BJP and its leadership have the enough skill and charisma to strengthen the party’s position in a long term basis, and also to garner united stand to defeat the ruling Congress under the banner of Modi’s modifications in all sectors, the state BJP is sure to hold the position it speculates. It is time for the BJP to dwell on Modi’s innovative policies and programmes as propaganda for elections, rather than the petty issues of power mongering among state politicians. Now the ball is in the court of the state BJP’s leadership.
It may also be observed that the most important drawback of the state BJP as of now is that it tends to welcome all and sundry to its fold without considering the age, past reputation, and impending rivalry within the constituency. The case of tested as well as tasted veterans is surely a burden to the state BJP, as almost all veterans in state BJP now have considerable ill-remarks in their long political career. These veterans who had already served as legislators in various capacities in numerous political parties have naturally lost their charm, and people are fed up with what they speak of social issues such as corruption, threat to boundary, and threat to indigenous people. General people of the state now ask “What had you done when in power” and “What can you do now at the fag end of your political career”. It is the age of the young brigade. In this neo-liberal digital age, energetic and dynamic manpower must be in the forefront to rule with the pulse of the people.
On the other hand, in spite of the so-called anti incumbency factors, corruption and scams labeled against the Okram Ibobi Singh led Congress Government, people in many circles are still contemplating a fourth Ibobi regime after the coming Manipur Legislative Assembly Elections.
With the elections slated to be conducted at the very dawn of next year, the hope for any split or defection of Congress MLAs from the ruling party seems afar. Even though the possibility of such an overhaul is still there, many are of the opinion that the seasoned Ibobi might have tightened his grip not to let any of his men becoming Hemanta Bishwas Sharma of Assam. Amid hectic electioneering in various constituencies, the Congress government is engaging in eleventh hour recruitment drive as a pre-poll gimmick. Despite realizing that such recruitments will not be finalized before the onset of election code of conduct, the aspiring candidates and their parents are now in hectic search to deposit bribes. Why the state government is now engaging its valuable time in recruitments, which it could have done during its past fifteen year tenure ?
Even though the regional forces are expected to be playing a decisive role in power sharing and formation of government, Manipur has for now no capable regional party to manage the ground. Once a prominent regional party, the Manipur People’s Party, whose sway over state politics is almost dead now, will not be able to play considerable role in government formation, because the party has negligible number of winnable candidates. Other newly formed regional parties also appear to be lacking in capacity to woo the incumbents and probable legislators. However, an upheaval in the political scenario in Manipur will be visible only after the party tickets for BJP are announced. Ticket losers from the saffron brigade will surely leave the lotus and begin upholding regional agenda. However, even though the existing regional parties field sufficient number of candidates, chances of winning seats are dim as winnable candidates will be on either the Congress or the BJP.
In the midst of highly complicated political maneuvering to grab power among the affluent and powerful politicians, majority of the poverty stricken common men are left with no options but to accept the cash notes in return to their valuable voting rights for five years period. No political party seems to contemplate on bigger state, national and international issues to woo voters for the coming general election. Confused indeed whether there is any relation between democratic elections and the poor common people in Manipur.
(The writer may be reached at [email protected])