Do you think Shri N Biren is people’s Chief Minister? Do you know Manipur’s Chief Minister is one of the best politicians in India considering his endeavor to minimize the gaps between hill and plain people? Do you not take the BJP-led Government as the best Government delivering good governance, free from evils and corrupt practices? There may be hundred and one questions in some wild critic’s mind. There may crop up thousands of answers ranging from strong YESs to outright NOs. I would like to express my opinion that Shri N Biren speaks what he means. On the basis of this opinion of Shri N Biren who never tells lies and who has good heart to safeguard the ‘oneness of Manipur’, I am disappointed to note some challenges to Chief Minister’s personal endeavor.
One will not forget the central team that came to Manipur to inspect the boundary pillars of Manipur when there was tension between Manipur and Myanmar. DC Chandel reported to the people of Manipur that Myanmar crossed International boundary and erected a new boundary pillar on the soil of Manipur. The Government of Manipur could not do anything because of the fact that boundary issues are in the hands of the Central Government. The inspecting team after hearing arguments of political leaders, civil society leaders and some historians said it would come back to Manipur with necessary documents. The team changed their stands when they reached Imphal and again at Delhi. The Government of India said that there was no boundary dispute with Myanmar. Did people of Manipur believe what the messengers from Delhi said? Whatever people have in their minds about India’s stand on Manipur international boundary is against the Chief Minister’s agenda of oneness of Manipur. People’s memory may be short, as the popular saying goes, but they do not forget everything.
There were many instances of confusion over the outcome of so called Naga Peace Talk, practically the talk is between NSCN (IM) whom the GOI gave undue importance believing that taming NSCN (IM) would mean the End of Insurgent History in India and Government of India who consider insurgency in North East as manifestation of tribalism. When the Naga Peace Talk nearly comes to a logical conclusion, both the parties come to realize that the entire peace process has been based on certain logical fallacies. Respecting Uniqueness of the Naga as people is not equal to recognizing NSCN (IM) as sole representative of the group of people collectively called Naga whose identity is not defined historically, sociologically or culturally as evident from claims and counter-claims over the identities of smaller Manipuri tribes.
On the other hand, NSCN (IM) is, as India realized, not the mother of North East insurgent groups. Many North East insurgent groups are not even foster children of NSCN (IM) and so also in Nagaland. So the logical conclusion cannot be drawn easily as expected earlier. The road leading to Naga integration, in Muivah’s word Nagalim, is not smooth and is against the historical development of North East. Pan Naga Body and even the Naga Council in States outside Nagaland are bitterly opposed by neighboring States. Government of India, at the end point of Peace Talk, gives the responsibility of convincing the Naga neighbors for everything that had been agreed between GOI and NSCN (IM) and other Nagaland groups for that matter. To an ordinary Manipuri who loves Manipur and likes to see always oneness of Manipur that was shaped over a long periods of history, the belief is that People’s Chief Minister will represent his historical pride and aspiration.
So Chief Minister seemingly has a strong challenge in acting in the tune of ordinary Manipuri. Even the power brokers and opportunists who are loitering around the corridors of power in the State will not forgive any Chief Minister who acts against the historically evolved Manipuri interest. To the people of Manipur rapprochement does not mean rapprochement with NSCN (IM) who killed, tortured, humiliated the entire people of Manipur and they have a clear stand that anti-NSCN(IM) does not mean anti-Naga at any cost. In short, formation of Naga Territorial Council in Manipur, establishment of Pan Naga Body and any other arrangement that would lower the dignity of Manipur’s Assembly are challenges to a good Chief Minister who is in public mind.
The NSCN (IM) after getting sanction from GOI tried to talk with several individuals and CSOs of neighboring States to win their hearts. The collective leaders of NSCN (IM) now remember the cultural and historical relations with the Meitei while talking with some of CSO leaders from Manipur. They try to press the soft corner button as if the group is representative of all the hill peoples of Manipur. Government of Manipur should address the problems of the people for whom NSCN (IM) is not the sole representative. The problems of the people in Manipur which are social and economic in nature are different from those of NSCN (IM). To the people’s Chief Minister, the challenge is to differentiate these two sets of problems.
The Government of India sometimes recognizes the presence of NSCN (IM) legally or politically for getting certain political goals and denies saying anything about their presence. The two recent incidents around the issues of ‘undeclared’ NSCN (IM) camps in Manipur reminds the people of several such incidents right from the NSCN (IM) Captain’s misbehavior to the unconditional release of NSCN (IM) cadres. To those Manipuris who believe ethnic groups in the State cannot be neighbors of the State, Manipur’s neighbors are the States and countries. Ethnic groups are peoples living the State. The challenge to the Chief Minister’s idea of Oneness of Manipur is convincing these ethnic groups that they are but our citizens as much as Alimuddin, Saiza, Haokhongmang, Rishang, Koireng, Achou are.
- Published in Articles