Maharaja Bodh Chandra: The last ruler of Manipur

-Wahengbam Pathou
Contd from previous issue
To return to the argument for and against Irabot’s stand on merger question, it should be clear in one’s mind that just because Irabot did not articulate in writing that he denounced merger, cannot lead one to derive the inference that he countenanced it. One must consider the fact that he was indulging in an act of waging war against the Indian state from 1949-51.
He was training guns against Indian establishment and let it known to the world that he was resisting domination of Manipur by India. To this end, he was using Burma as a springboard to fight back and revolting over merger issue. For anyone to portray Irabot as an endorser and backer of the idea of Manipur joining India would certainly smack of cheaply appropriating him for hidden political agenda and deriving personal gains by dishonest politicians indulging in the vile act. ‘Comrade’ Bira led the pack in doing so and paid heavy price with his own life at the hands of late R.K. Tulachandra. One can harly overemphasize that in his quest, or rather apetite and avarice for power, Irabot’s true political intent and agenda was deliberately misconstrued, vilely misrepresented and misinterpreted by ‘Comrade’ Bira. Irabot’s anti-merger stance, the story of his resentment fightback, resistance and rebellion against Manipur’s merger with India was given complete go-by and sidelined by ‘Comrade’ Bira. Worse still, a tailormade and dovetailed narrative Irabot was deliberately foisted to suit his own agenda which provoked outrage of late R.K. Tulachandra to the hilt thereby earning violent backlash and reprisal from the latter because of which he was assassinated.       
Nobody is going to buy the argument that Irabot endorsed merger. The argument that he approved of and countenanced merger does not hold any water, is untenable and will certainly fall flat. Yet, the present crop of C.P.I. Manipur unit’s leaders choose not to openly admit it and continue to indulge in an act discreetly maintaining a conspiracy of silence on the question what was Irabot’s reaction to merger agreement, as emphasized elsewhere earlier. (Only Soyam Chhatradhari, of all Metei communists, had the gumption to maintain that Irabot was wild with rage at merger. That’s why late grand old man Soyam Chhatradhari was and is still not taken kindly by the C.P.I. for upsetting their party line.) To keep mum on the question of Irabot’s reaction to merger and sidestep it tantamount to shameless perfidy of Irabot’s genuine political yearning for Manipur. To seek votes in his name in Indian elections conducted at the parliamentary and State assembly levels considering that he was aghast at the very act of Manipur’s joining India brazen shamelessness and flagrant travesty of his true political desire and longings, which is about high time to put an end to. Portrayal of Irabot in true light has been given a complete goby by the C.P.I. for political expediency by skirting to take a position on the matter. Maintain a studied conspiracy of silence and deflect the issue is the sly and crafty strategy adopted by the C.P.I. on Irabot.   
Voices emanating from certain quarters claim that Hijam Irabot was not a communist at all. There exists quite many a discrepancy and incongruity which make it difficult for him to be dubbed a communist. He did not openly declare himself as a communist in any public forum but portrayed himself either a peasant movement leader in the rural countryside or a progressive political leader in the town. He did not introduce himself as a communist after he set foot on the soil of Manipur returning back after six years exile in 1946. He contested the 1948 elections as a candidate of Krishak Sabha and all his followers elected to the Assembly viz. Takhellambam Bokul, Maimom Modhumangol, Ayekpam Ango and Thokchom Shyama were candidates of Krishak Sabha, which was not declared as a communist party during electoral fray. There were a number of occasions in which many of his views appeared quiet at variance with the official stance and standpoint of the C.P.I. To reiterate again, John Parratt regarded Irabot as radical socialist not a communist. It is quite apparent that Irabot had differing viewpoints with the C.P.I. in as much as differences exist between a Fabian socialist and Communist Party of Great Britain (C.P.G.B.) partyman.
Nevertheless all said and done, it is quite difficult divorce Irabot from the C.P.I. in the over all picture but the moot question remains as to whether the trials and tribulations Irabot was subjected to by the C.P.I., especially towards the fag end of his life, when it was indicated to him that he would be taken back to Manipur against his own will by the party apparatus of the C.P.I. drove him into such a state of utter despair that ultimately resulted in forcing him to commit suicide. The C.P.I. has to take a final call on this disturbing question and clear the cobwebs of nagging doubts that exist in people’s mind on the question – did the celebrated national hero Hijam Irabot commit suicide in Burma when push came to shove, wilting under pressure, when message was passed on to him he would be taken back to Manipur against his own will. Last word has not been said on the final moments concerning life of Irabot. It is not a closed chapter as the C.P.I. would like have people believe, but still an open one awaiting closure by conclusively establishing what is what, in so far as case story relating the matter is concerned.
Some years ago, when the Communist Party of India was sharing power with the Indian National Congress party running State government in Manipur, possibly 2007-12, the party came out with a publication detailing some information about life of Hijam Irabot incorporating statements from Dr. Moirangthem Nara, Longjam Gyanendra (Jnanendra) and Thangjam Bapu. Wahengbam Ningthemjao, when interviewed on 30 September, 2010 was quite exasperated having read their statements because these individuals did not accompany Neta Irabot during his days in Burma and knows nothing as such, about the leader’s time and moments in the foregn country. Yet they had the audacity to authoritatively claim to know about Irabot’s days in Burma while simultaneously sidelining man like him (Wahengbam Ningthemjao) into utter oblivion who stayed with the leader during the thick and thin of rebellion in Burma, fiercely battling against military crackdown offensive unleashed by the U Nu government to ward off the country’s army hostile offensive, zealously fighting pitched battles for territorial dominance, alongside the Burmese communists from 1950’s to mid 60’s.
That’s why, late W. Ningthemjao made a bizarre and crude remark quoting an old Meitei adage sanao ahum pokpada thorabi ama yao-ee (among three calves born, these exists an aberration) and that very thorabi (aberration) is the C.P.I. of Manipur today with respect to Irabot story because the party is known to portray the leader in a totally different light for reasons of political expediency and gains.
 (To be contd)