To the utter disbelief and consternation of many in the state, arguably the highest level of ‘Captive politics’ if one may use the term- was witnessed being practiced by the Biren-led ruling state government during the Rally held at Hapta Kangjeibung Day before yesterday. The scene unfolding during the late afternoon inside the compound where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was canvassing for his second term can only be described as controlled chaos to put it mildly. While it is a certainty that the state machinery and its think-tanks would have constructed their best possible explanation, no amount of justification or diversionary tactics will ever be able to cut ice with the public. The picture of a large number of ‘supporters’, mostly women clambering to come out of the compound through the gate which was kept shut from outside and manned by the security forces on the outside visibly trying to prevent those from inside from making an exit tells its own story. That a few of these women risked their lives by climbing the high iron gates in order to escape the fenced compound bears testimony to a grand scheme gone awry.
Given that politics is a game of numbers, it is not theatrical gestures or megalomanic oration that will retain the trust of the public. Politics of religion, hatred or coercion will only work so long. Fear has its limit and one who is pushed with the back against the wall will have no other option but to use the fear to come forward fighting with everything one has. This fact applies to a collective group or region as well and it would do well for those in power to recognize and remind themselves of this at all times. It is no secret that there are various jokes doing the rounds in the state regarding the alacrity with which the present Chief Minister reacts to any criticism to his personal self or his functioning. To a true leader of the people, such criticisms should be taken as an indicator of the perception of the public towards the temperament of the leader and not a personal affront. While money still opens many doors when it comes to influencing voting decisions, the palpable shift in social behavior and outlook of many a common man towards a more transparent, stable and tolerant party with a leader who walks the talk should be noted and given due importance.
Bottomline is- instead of importing and implementing coercive and often vindictive means of making the public toe the line, a more liberal, participative and transparent governance will enable any political party to win the heart and hand of the common people. If the present state government believes it is up to the challenge, it should reign in and take strict measures to ensure insurgent groups like KNA who are reportedly threatening a number of villages with violence and unwanted consequences if the BJP candidate for the outer parliamentary constitution receives less than 90 percent of votes does not meddle in a free and fair election, to start with. Else the people of Manipur and the rest of the NorthEast region as a whole might very well adopt the stand of the people of Mizoram.
Jeet Akoijam, Resident Editor of Imphal Times hails from Singjamei Liwa Road. Has been with Imphal Times since its start. A regular Trekker and Nature Lover, loves spending time in lap of Mother Nature. Jeet is the father of two lovely kids.