Issues, issues everywhere, anytime Impact on LS polls

Issues, issues everywhere and anytime. No wonder Manipur is known as a place reporters or newsmen love to focus on. It is CAB at the moment with news and events all related to the Bill after it was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8 and once the furore over the said Bill passes, one can expect another issue to come and occupy prime time or prime space for days together. This is where it will be interesting to see how the final agreement between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) and the six NNPGs pan out. Will Manipur relive the days of 2001 when the Centre inserted the words ‘ceasefire without territorial limits’ in the truce pact with the NSCN (IM) or will the final pact be to the satisfaction of all, with the Centre managing to walk the fine line. Too early to say how things will unfold, but already a good number of civil society organisations have made it clear that any final agreement with the NSCN (IM) should not impinge on the understanding of Manipur as a geo-political reality. The stand of Manipur has gone beyond protecting the territorial integrity of the State but has gone to cover the existence of Manipur as a political entity where its power and authority should not be diluted. In other words any arrangements that bypass Imphal will not be acceptable. On the other hand the stand of the Nagas of Manipur has been asserted time and again and it will be interesting to see how the Centre manages to come out with a balancing act. Other than what the NSCN (IM) had demanded, it is also important to keep in mind that Kuki armed groups under SoO pact with the Government have their own agenda which run counter to the understanding of Manipur as a geo-political reality.
All the issues mentioned here can come to occupy centre stage any point of time and the character of Manipur and her people will be put to yet another test when a final agreement is inked. This is where the responsibility of the people becomes important. So CAB at the moment and in the coming days it could be the ongoing peace talk between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India, the demand that the State Government send a recommendation to the Centre that the Meiteis be included in the ST list of the Constitution of India, the Manipur People Bill, etc. These are all issues which can be highly emotive and yet at the same time these can also have an impact on the coming Lok Sabha elections. With the BJP led NDA Government having already passed the CAB in the Lok Sabha and waiting to get it enacted once it is passed in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress and other political parties must have already started rolling up their sleeves to land blows in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections. How the blows land can go some way in deciding the voting behaviour of the voters. Same is the case with the other issues which have been mentioned here. This reality must have registered in the mind of Chief Minister N Biren and the other State level BJP leaders and how they go about dealing with these issues will be interesting, for remember the question at hand is about which party gets to form the Government after the Lok Sabha elections. Manipur may have just two seats, but each seat will count in the ultimate analysis.

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