Research Scholar, IIT Bombay
Manipur had become a constitutional monarchy in 1947 with voting rights for all adults. The first legislative assembly election in Manipur happened in 1948. No political party had an absolute majority. Therefore, an alliance of Praja Samiti, Krishak Sangha and independent members from the hills formed the government. Manipur State Congress, the precursor of the Indian National Congress, which was actively involved in pro-integration activities during this period, did not come to power. Two factions inside Manipur State Congress, Tomal and Tompok faction, worked vehemently for integration, including satyagraha against the dishonouring of Indian National Flag and the Gandhi cap. Tompok faction’s first session in 1947 happened at Atom Babu Sharma’s residence, a known historian of Manipur. Atom Babu Sharma’s narrative on Manipur is not far from BJP’s narrative on Manipur and North East. His scholarship has been rejected now in academia. His writings forcefully integrate indigenous puwari-s of Manipur with Hindu mythologies to present a Brahmanical history of Manipur. Recently, CM Nongthombam Biren brought Rukmini and Krishna myth to talk about the relationship between the region and mainland India in Madhavpur fair. The Hinduisation movement which began in the North East centuries ago has continued through different actors, including Congress and BJP now. Therefore, it is a myth that BJP is an ideological challenge to Congress in matters of Manipur.
BJP and Congress must have calculated benefits of the bill in short and long term both. Whether BJP comes to power this time or not, the bill is going to benefit them in the long run as the demography is expected to change in favour of the mayang-s. The Congress has benefited from settling in migrants from Bangladesh earlier, according to BJP. The regional parties with the indigenous population as their support base would suffer from the demographic change. However, the matter is far more serious than who comes to power in parliamentary elections. It is much more serious than Congress vs BJP vs regional parties trying to have a piece of the ruined pie. The passing of such a bill in Lok Sabha went without the consent of the indigenous people. The role of MPs from Manipur and other northeastern states in this matter have been condemnable. However, Manipur has only two representatives in the lower house. CAB 2016 row reveals that the indigenous people of North East have not been effectively represented in this parliamentary democracy. The matter, though, is more than politics of representation. The Indian democratic state with its repressive measures, AFSPA, UAPA, Sedition laws and NSA, rules the indigenous people of Manipur who are at the same time facing a demographic assault from the mayang-s coming from the west. It is unlikely that the regional parties and the units of national parties in Manipur can achieve anything for the indigenous people on this matter.
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.