Chief Minister Okram Ibobi’s political journey is often term as ‘lady luck’ by many analysts. The mass uprising of June 2001 against the backdrop of the controversial peace deal between the government of India and the NSCN-IM on June 14 of that year, popularly known as the Bangkok declaration, which included the extension of “cease fire” between the two entities without territorial limitation can be perhaps considered as the beginning of his lady luck. Valley region which have more seats and other hill areas where the NSCN-IM can’t influence were driven by emotion to the aggressive attitude of the NSCN-IM. On the other hand, even though it was officially not recorded or accepted, each and every Manipuri knows how the cadres of NSCN-IM had interfered the 2002 Manipur Legislative Assembly election. It was as a result of their interference that the veteran congress leader and former Chief Minister Rishang Keishing was defeated by MSCP candidate Wungnaosung Keishing.
Okram Ibobi Singh, who was first elected as Independent candidate in 1984 Manipur Legislative Assembly Election and who later joined the congress was left as the only congress leader whom can be trusted by Rishang leashing, who at that time was more like a supremo of the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee besides having healthy connection with the AICC leadership. The 2002 election was significant for Okram Obobi Singh. Congress strongman like Phunzathang Tonsing, Th. Devendra among others too got elected. The number that the congress got that time was only 20. Federal Party got 13 seats, MSCP got 7 seats, BJP got 4 seats, CPI got 5 seat, MPP got 2 seat, DRPP got 2 seats, NCP got 3 seats, SAP got 3 seats and NNC got 1 seat. Even though it was not absolute majority the Governor gave top priority to Congress and invited if they could stake claimed to form government.
Instead of recommending Tonsing or Devendra, Rishang Keishing whose voice was highly respected by the AICC leadership chose Okram Ibobi Singh. The reason may be varied and only Keishing will be able to tell why he wanted Okram Ibobi Singh to be the Chief Minister of Manipur.
Horse trading game was common in those days and congress was expert in the field and form government. However at a time when Ibobi’s position was in shaky position it was the Anti-defection Law of the 10th Scheduled of the Indian Constitution that save his position. Not only that he was saved but his position was even more stable.
Leaving aside the series of development and political crisis during his 15 years tenure, this 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election is going to be tough one for Mr. Ibobi , the Congress Chief Minister as BJP wave is sweeping across the country.
October 24, 2016 Ukhrul incident was perhaps a gain point for Ibobi. The sentiment of the valley people is once more in the dice and Okram Ibobi is tackling it with extra care. The territorial integrity factor is once more rolls out and Ibobi is all set to play the tough game in the name of protecting the boundary from the hand of BJP which is engaging peace talk with the NSCN-IM. Already Okram Ibobi has pointed fingered to NSCN-IM which had stopped him and ministerial candidates from inaugurating the government structures.
Well game is being played well and ‘lady luck’ is perhaps happening this time too. But it this luck is a staged one which is shattered from destiny then it would not amount to his own destruction but destruction of this erstwhile kingdom called Manipur. Beware fellow Manipuri lets’ take good care in this election to protect the integrity of the state as well as to restore communal harmony among the people of the state.