By: Seram Neken
A few years ahead of the end of British rule in Manipur in 1947, some conscious and educated youths of Manipur came out strongly against the anti-people policies of the Kingship under the British India regime. From the late 1930s to the period of Manipur’s merger into Indian union in 1949, numerous twists and turns were witnessed in Manipur politics. During this period, leading social thinkers and political activists turned up to decide the fate of Manipuris.
Those who defied the atrocious governance of the King under British India wished for having a democratic and responsible government for Manipur. One of the options was to grasp ‘Democracy’ in line with the propagations of Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress party in India. Rajkumar Maipaksana was one such youth who worked earnestly for bringing in democratic and responsible governance in Manipur during this transition period.
However, frustrated over the attitude of India government after Manipur’s merger into India in 1949, on one occasion he took the initiative for the formation of ‘Revolutionary Nationalist Party of Manipur’ in 1953 (April 19) to demand for an ‘independent buffer state’, if the Indian union did not grant responsible government to Manipur. Consequently, Maipaksana along with erstwhile leaders Sagolsem Indramani, Yangmasho Saiza and Wahengbam Prahlada were arrested and put in 6 months rigorous imprisonment.
Born on 11th October, 1924 to Rajkumar Sanahal @ Aminsana @ Guneshore and Haobam Ningol Bidhumukhi Shija of Singjamei Mathak Chongtham Leikai, Imphal, RK Maipaksana popularly known as ‘Matamgi Wapham Writer’ for Imphal Radio station’, was an ardent political activist and journalist during the period of Manipur’s transition from kingship under British hegemony to establishment of democratic form of government before its final merger into Indian union.
He took a commendable role in the conversion of Nikhil Hindu Manipuri Mahasabha formed in 1934 with Churachand Maharaj as its chairman into Manipur State Congress Party in 1946. He became an important member not only of the Manipur State Congress but also the in-charge of its student volunteers. Since the late 1930s, Maipaksana during his schooldays joined political activities in association with erstwhile prominent leaders like Hijam Irabot and Elangbam Tompok.
RK Maipaksana passed matriculation from Churachand High School under Calcutta University in 1942, during which Manipur was in complete turmoil for being an important battleground of the World War –II. (On 11th May 1942, Imphal witnessed the first bombing by the Japanese forces). In ‘1948, Maipaksana passed IA and in 1950 he got the BA degree from Calcutta University in Economics and Philosophy.
Following a reception programme for the Indian National Army (INA) members of Manipur at the residence of RK Maipaksana at Singjamai Chongtham Leikai in June 1946, the ‘INA Relief Committee’ was formed with him as the secretary. He was also the secretary of INA Volunteers’ Corps for which Ex-INA Thokchom Angou was the president.
On October 4, 1946, a meeting was held at Aryan Theatre Hall at Imphal to form a political party called “Manipur State Congress”, which actually had no relation/connection with the erstwhile Indian National Congress, although the name was taken from it. Rajkumar Bhubonsana and Yumnam Khoimacha were the President and the General Secretary of the party. Rajkumar Maipaksana, who happened to be one of the six youths who took active role in organizing the meeting, became the member of the working committee of ‘Manipur State Congress’.
Manipur State Congress had its mouthpiece local newspaper called ‘Prajatantra’ since 1946 with Keisham Kunjabihari as its editor. During 1948-49, RK Maipaksana became its editor as well as Publicity in charge of the Congress. He also served as vice-president of Manipur State Students’ Congress during 1948. After around 2 years, he parted himself from the publication and became the editor of Manipuri Daily ‘Janmabhumi’ published at Chingamathak Bijoy Press during 1949-1951.
As an eminent journalist, Maipaksana served as the Imphal Correspondent of Shillong Times published in Shillong (1948-50), Hindustan Standard (Calcutta) (1949-50) and Assam Tribune (Guwahati).
Considering his skills in journalistic profession and its rising need for a publicity institution. Manipur Government appointed RK Maipaksana as the first Publicity Officer of Manipur on 1st November 1949. The charge of publicity officer had been earlier held by Laishram Gopal who was superintendent of Government Press and later allotted to Rajkumar Sanahal (B. Com) who was the Taxation Officer. However, Maipaksana resigned from the post on 3rd December the same year, as he thought of serving independently in newspaper establishments with which he associated.
The day on which RK Maipaksana was appointed Publicity Officer of Manipur Government (November 1) has been being observed every year as ‘Information & Public Relations Day’ by the Government since in 1991. In the year, 1992, RK Maipaksana along with Keisham Kunjabihari, and Thiyam Meghachandra were honoured by the Government with the State Journalist Award for their commendable works in the field.
Thinking that the expectations of the Manipuris for a responsible government under the Indian democratic set-up were derailed by the Congress Party rule in India, RK Maipaksana departed himself from the State Congress party, and along with Elangbam Tompok formed the Gandhi Sevak Sabha in 1951. He became the General Secretary of ‘Gandhi Sevak Sabha’, of which Elangbam Tompok was the President. Representing the new party, RK Maipaksana contested the State Electoral College elections in 1952 and elected as a member of 30-member Electoral College from Singjamei constituency. Elangbam Tompok, who contested for the Lok Sabha seat under Gandhi Sevak Samaj, was however defeated in the election held the same year. The Electoral College, of which Maipaksana became a member, was to nominate a member to Rajya Sabha.
Numerous significant events which occurred in the year 1952 became a turning point in the political history of Manipur. In the midst of the first ever election in Manipur under Indian Constitution, drastic famine due to rampant export of rice, and the visit of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Manipur, frustration haunted the visionary politicians of the erstwhile Part-C state of Manipur including RK Maipaksana for non-establishment of responsible governance in the state. Accordingly, the ‘Manipur Democratic Front’ was formed by amalgamating four non-congress parties namely Praja Shanti, National Union, Gandhi Sevak Sabha and Communist Party to oppose the Chief Commissioner’s one-man rule instead of the democratically elected government and appointment of non-Manipuri officials with communalistic outlook as heads of departments.
Later in 1953, RK Maipaksana took the initiative for the formation of ‘Revolutionary Nationalist Party of Manipur’ to demand for an ‘independent buffer state’, if the Indian union did not grant responsible government to Manipur. Consequently, Maipaksana as General Secretary of the Revolutionary Nationalist Party of Manipur’ along with erstwhile leaders Sagolsem Indramani, Yangmasho Saiza and Wahengbam Prahlada were arrested and put in 6 months rigorous imprisonment.
Thereafter, RK Maipaksana gradually distanced himself from active politics, while deciding to remain in the teaching profession. Maipaksana was the teacher in Churachand High English school, Head Master of ‘New Girls and Adult Night High School’ (1954-55), teacher in Residential High school (1957-58) etc. During the last part of his life, RK Maipaksana worked in the News Section of All India Radio Imphal. His appealing and forceful ‘Matamgi Wapham’ episodes are still lingering the ears of the contemporary generations. On 18th October 1983, the eminent political activist, revolutionary, teacher and journalist breathed his last, leaving his indelible imprint on social and political history of Manipur.
(The writer is senior columnist & recipient of RK Maipaksana Journalist Fellowship, 2010-11. This article is published in connection with the birth anniversary of late RK Maipaksana which falls on 11 October 2023.)
Tribute to Rajkumar Maipaksana
Eminent Political Activist, Journalist, Revolutionary & Teacher
By: Seram Neken