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Manipur Electoral Politics and its Dynamics

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Manipur Electoral Politics and its Dynamics

By: Leivon Victor Lamkang
Considering that Manipur was the first Indian state to implement adult franchise as early as 1948, according to “Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947” even before the Indian state adopted one. The political landscape is often categorized and continued till day for apprehending cases of defections, floor crossing, back door horse trading, and eminent nature of alliances, with heightened political instability often resulting in up to six periods of president rule in the state. In 35 years between 1967 and 2002, Manipur saw eight Chief Ministers, but none of them served their full terms (Bhuyan, 2009). Manipur’s political history has taught us about the dangers of intra-party strife and the pursuit of self-interest, it has also documented instances of shifting of loyalties. These events sparked a period of political instability in Manipur that persisted until the Okram Ibobi administration completed its entire term. However, this cycle of perpetual instability is still ongoing due to the regularity with which no-confidence motions are passed and alliances switched.
In addition to the aforementioned problems, Manipur is also primarily affected by high crime rates and disputes from insurgency groups operating in the hills and valleys of the state. These groups see themselves as organizations with competing interests with the government and believe that they have been abandoned by the Indian government since Independence, which has had a significant impact on Manipur electoral politics. Rather than using the seven developments of scientific temper to analyze the widely available empirical provisions, the social construct of today’s media and other variables provide electoral politics more on the normative aspect, restricting the very knowledge of electoral politics.
The political party:
The growth of a Politically conscious educated middle class among the literate sections of the Manipuri society provided a way for the growth of political parties which started its episodic journey during the pre-colonial period eventually the first political party ‘Nikhil Manipur Mahasabha’ came into existence, historical instances of the combined oppression of colonialism-feudalism which was based on impurity and purity, economic exploitations and political dependency, etc. played a considerable role in shaping popular political consciousness and demarcating the significance of political party in Manipur. The split of the congress between the Congress’s “Tomal faction”, “Tompok faction,” and the Maharaja’s entry into a different party event that occurred as early as 1947describe the fundamental characteristics of political parties both then and now. Manipur’s political party culture has a long history of manipulation through permutation and combination. One example of this is the United Legislature party’s political structure both before and after the 1972 elections.
Interestingly, though regionalism plays a significant role in voter concentration, national parties like the Congress and BJP tend to gradually sway voters by portraying situations in which candidates are their top priorities when it comes to casting ballots, as opposed to party incitement, ideologies, or ideological barriers among Manipuris.
Although the political party politics of North and South India are heavily impacted by the division of ideologies, the northeastern region of India, particularly Manipur, does not benefit much from this concept which can be seen from the instances of The BJP’s victory in 2017 and 2022 Manipur assembly elections which had less to do with Hindutva politics and more to with three factors, The first being the public’s desire for new politics following the INC’s decline. Secondly, the BJP’s slew of development projects and promises to root out corruption, and thirdly, its proximity to state power for central funding since the BJP became the ruling party following its landslide victory in the 2014 general elections (Mukhopadhyay, 2018)
The political party has a significant and insignificant role in the recent case. The significant role is in assisting the candidate in spotting opportunities for political gain through funding and other electoral workloads before the elections, which would be much more feasible and efficient. The insignificant role is the ideological divide between the party and the candidate, which corrupts the party’s very core principles. Despite this, national parties in Manipur are more focused on winning the election than heavily endorsing their ideologies on the platforms.
Voting behavior:
Voter behavior has changed in the last several years, not only in Manipur but also throughout much of the northeast, with people being more likely to support the party in power in the center. This may be attributed to the BJP’s efforts to draw greater attention to the region and spend money on infrastructure projects. It can also be attributed to the BJP’s projection of the Northeast across the globe, which is based on diverse infrastructure investments made by states and organizations like the European Union and Japan respectively. Furthermore, the BJP has deftly elevated the idea of a “Double Engine government” with the center in power, resulting in the victory of elections in 2017 and 2023. Manipur is predicted to have a case of “small state syndrome,” suggesting a higher propensity to vote for the party that is in power at the center due to the disparities acknowledged at hand.
It’s reasonable to state that, unlike other parts of the country where secularist ideologies have a significant impact on voting behavior leading up to elections, party ideologies do not significantly harm voters’ psychology or influence state voting behavior. Rather, individual ideologies rather than party ideologies synchronize at the grassroots level.
The history of voting behavior of Manipur has also taught us that the issues based on ethnic lines have been a major contemplation with the state politics focused on the issues of development, ethnicity, and insurgency (Hausing, 2015) which tends to result in partisan voting heavily influenced by community-based organization and insurgent groups although psephologist would suggest that the translation of electoral voting into Ethnic lines directly or indirectly corrupts the very nature of Democracy.
Today, the media plays a very dominant role as the virtual presence of the candidate in providing their interest to the run-up is much heavier than any electoral run-ups before, this media game would be vitality in deriving the voters and changing the public dynamics which would directly or indirectly provide a humongous on the voting behavior of the public.
(The Author is a Master’s Student, Department of Politics and International studies, Pondicherry University, Puducherry)

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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