The SPF Government, it seems has come full circle. Set off by Consumer Affairs Food and Public Distribution Minister and Government spokesman to boot, N Biren sometime in the latter part of the second week of the economic blockade imposed by the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee, Chief Minister O Ibobi appears intent to take things to its logical conclusion. Sometime in the second week of August this year, N Biren had announced for all to hear and see that the SPF Cabinet would provide foolproof security on the Imphal- Jiribam line or NH-37 by August 15 to ensure free flow of goods to the State. This came after three people had died in blockade related incidents. Fast forward to November 6 and we have our honourable Chief Minister announcing that the ‘tolerance limit of the Government has been stretched.” This came on the 98th day of the economic blockade when the State had already witnessed school vans being forced off the road due to lack of fuel, when prices of all essential commodities had touched sky high and when queues outside petrol pumps had stretched to as long as four kilometres. What adds that touch of the comical and the tragic is that the tough pose of the Chief Minister came a few days after the Best Improved State in Governance Among Small States was conferred on Manipur by the India Today Group. And so it stands that merely 48 hours before Manipur was to script some sort of a history by becoming the first ever State in the country to face an economic blockade for 100 days, the Chief Minister realised that the “tolerance limit of the Government is over.” Talk about the complete disconnect between the Government and the people and the very understanding of representative Government stands turned upside down in all its naked ugliness. The very comment of the Chief Minister may go down in posterity for in one stroke or in one exercise of stringing some words, he has put the tolerance limit of the Government towards economic blockades at 98 days ! To Mr Ibobi and his men, it may not matter if the people find the tolerable limit of the Government intolerable but the tolerance part or intolerable after 98 days of economic blockade part is extremely interesting. Such a tolerance limit speaks of an arrogance, an arrogant mindset borne of being in power for ten consecutive years.
While a visit to the laboratory and library may be necessary to fully comprehend the factors responsible for making the present leadership of the State indifferent to the serpentine queues outside petrol pumps and the escalating prices of all essential commodities, such an exercise may not be necessary to understand the factors behind the ongoing UNC sponsored economic blockade on the National Highways, though some layers may need to be peeled off to get to the crux. The MoU signed with the SHDDC is one point but the opposition to it is triggered by the Alternative Arrangement model mooted for the first time during the Naga People’s Convention at Senapati on July 1, 2010. The parent of the Alternative Arrangement is the Greater Lim concept floated by the NSCN (IM), which comes under the “politically acceptable” term, “An honourable settlement to the Naga issue.” The Alternative Arrangement model and the Greater Lim concept then hinge on the ongoing peace talk between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India. This much is clear and the logical question that follows is, why is then Delhi maintaining an air of indifference to the situation unfolding in Manipur ? Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the Gandhi family of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram should answer this question. However if the recent visit of Chidambaram is anything to go by, then everything indicates that Delhi is content to let the status quo continue. After all, why stick our neck out, seems to be the politics that the political leadership of the country has scripted. Never mind if in the process it is the people of Manipur who get to be subjected to a series of humiliations and hardships every single day. This is a significant signal that rings out loud and clear.