With the general election just round the corner once again, the rat race to garner political mileage, socially relevant brownie points and support has begun in right earnest as had been the unfailing phenomena of our political system. Political parties and expectant candidates are ramping up the stage for the showdown which is approaching faster than we can utter ‘once again?’ The spurt in socially relevant activities after the long, leisurely lull is evident, so is the palpable enthusiasm and renewed vigour with which these ‘social activists’, ‘social scientists’ and well heeled career politicians- loosely translated to mean a person who has no real chance of life outside of politics and is stuck with the beast called Government, and worse, having limited chance at making a difference, if at all. A peculiar and increasingly worrying development is being seen this time around, one that was previously not as blatantly practiced- that of sitting MLAs furtively (or so they thought) seeking tickets or candidature from another party- to me more precise, sitting Congress MLAs trying to contest the forthcoming general election with BJP tickets. With the only regional party (MPP) which acted as a political bulwark against national parties receding into political oblivion, the stage is already set for a two-way fight for supremacy in Manipur. Ironically, the Manipur People’s Party (MPP) founded on December 26, 1968 by a group of dissidents from the Indian National Congress have had limited success despite the huge clout and support the people of the state bestowed, and at the February 2007 Manipur state elections, the party received 5 of the 60 seats. Currently it is a part of North-East Regional Political Front consisting of political parties of the northeast which has supported the National Democratic Alliance (India). The political infighting and scramble for position and power which is still continuing has made the party a non-entity, with members comprising mostly of those who are tried, tested and found lacking to be representatives of the people.
What is most disturbing is the fact that the BJP, emerging as the only possible alternative to the chaotic, corrupted and convoluted malpractices and woefully administered Congress government is more than likely to accommodate these freewheeling opportunists just to shore up the numbers. As things already turned out, the clamour for position and control of the party had already happened, and there is every possibililty of such an unwanted event repeating again.
What the people of the state want and need is a radical change in the way things are governed and administered and not a mere change of symbol or slogan. A change of guard would definitely bring about an impetus for cooperation, support and coordination that can drive growth- social and financial and once again help in realigning the state towards inclusive growth and progress. But there is still a big slip between the cup and the lip, and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Hope the long-disappointed people find the change which has been long in the making this time around. The game of ‘old wine in new bottle’ needs to go for good.