This very day the state under the third best Chief Minister in the country is reeling under the ‘General Strike’ called by a committee of representatives of armed proscribed groups. This is also the very state where professors and students of the university are being paraded with hands cuffed for dissent and raising their voice against perceived wrongdoings. In contrast to the declaration of making Manipur a disturbance-free state by the new government especially when it comes to the overwhelming number of disruptions and disturbances in the daily routine of the people of the state due to blockades, bandhs and general strikes for the past many years, the restrictions and disturbances on the lives of the general public is on the rise, and the thought of the condition of the other states ranked lower in the poll can only present an alarming mental picture. Surprisingly, unlike the last instance of general strike which was called just a few days back, the state government has remained silent and refrained from issuing diktats for punitive action against those who does not turn up for work. And unlike last time when the shops and commercial institutions were forced open using security personnel, almost all the shops and business establishments remains closed and the streets bore a deserted look. For the representatives of the people who set out with evident grit and declared objectives of bringing change and positive development in the state by focusing on inclusive progress and thereby turning the system around for the good of the state has for all practical purpose been tweaked by the very system to conform to its functions and ways. Sad to say there are more disturbances and disruptions on the horizon, and if the present reactive manner of functioning is not rectified in time, we are all in for a long haul of chaotic and uncertain days- probably months. The unmistakable restrictions and unshakable instructions from the higher echelons of power at the centre that contradicts the aspirations and expectations of the people of the state has become the unspoken spanner in the works, and a symbol of relay-administration the people are increasingly worked up about. The people of the state is not concerned about the ranking or popularity of its leaders based on results culled by people from outside the state who collects figures put up by government agencies and departments which are often in contradiction with the reality on the ground. What the public has been searching for are leaders who can rise beyond vote bank politics and make a firm stand on issues to resonate with the aspirations of the people he represents, and at the same time are the ones to control and lead the people towards knowledge and restraint in matters which have emotional undertones. What the state need is a set of leaders who can relay the true aspirations and provide studied suggestions to the powers at the centre so that decisions acceptable to the people of the state as a whole are made. But for that to become a reality, those in power must learn to look beyond the obvious and take a long, hard look at the future to come up with plans and policies that will initiate inclusive progress. Turns out, that is easier said than done- at least for the time being.
Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents.