A quisling generation unmaketh Manipur in 1949
There exists a strand of opinion contending that merger was an inevitability, an inescapable fate of sorts, a sure thing certainly bound to happen for Manipur given that the then newly emerging Indian nation would not entertain the idea of a princely state remaining outside its administrative fold. For a princely state to stay outside the territorial expanse and administrative set up of the Indian state, existing as an independent entity, certainly went against the grain of what the framers and founding fathers of the constitution envisaged for the republic of India. Arguments supporting this line of thinking suggests that there was no way Maharaja Bodh Chandra could refuse to sign the merger agreement, when he was asked to do so in Shillong, by the then Assam Governor Sri Prakasa and his wily Secretary Mr. Nari Rustamji (I.C.S.). Counterfactually thinking, if Maharaja Bodh Chandra had indeed declined to sign the agreement, then either a military action similar to Operation Polo, which happened in Hyderabad would have taken place in Manipur or that Maharaja Bodh Chandra would have been dethroned by another scion of the Manipur royalty who would acquiesce to sign the on the dotted lines of the merger agreement (even though this was a sheer disinformation that was cleverly crafted and deliberately fed into His Highness’ ears in order to emotionally wile him and weaken his resolve so that he finally relent to sign the agreement in Shillong). Or similar on the lines of what happened in Junagadh; orchestrating a people’s movement, laced with military action that eventually forced the wayward ruler of the princely state to flee to Pakistan, after which a plebiscite was conducted there, which finally culminated Junagadh to join Indian union, would have been replicated for Manipur. Therefore, what happened in the autumn of the year 1949, i.e. merger into the then Dominion of India, was the only option available for Manipur and Maharaja Bodh Chandra, as though, this set of arrangement was preordained by providence and destiny.
Granted that merger was a sure thing to happen to Manipur, as held by certain quarters, as their viewpoint; however, what is really galling, dismaying and disdainful; sickening, nauseating and detestable as well, is the fact that in the year 1949, there once existed a league of small section of local intelligentsia dwelling in the urban pockets of Imphal, even though they constituted minuscule minority in numbers, these inimical elements were more than eager and willing to play into the hands of external adversarial forces to unmake Manipur at a critical juncture of history. Forthcoming generations will never forgive them for their treacherous role. History will adjudge these perfidious anti-monarchist lowly, life scum as most pernicious race little odious vermin that Manipur ever suffered to crawl on its surface: so to borrow, modify and reword from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels’ king of Brobdingnag’s denouncing remarks to Gulliver’s countrymen, if one put’s it right.
As the old adage goes, cometh the hour, cometh the man (who would rise to the occasion to scale pinnacles of glory to achieve something worthwhile for his people, society or nation as whole). However, in Manipur’s case, alas! alack! tch, tch! phooey! the opposite happened aghast in 1949. Cometh the critical hour, a quisling generation would rise to treacherously betray and disloyally surrender her in the most sordid fashion, meting out an utmost perfidy of ignominious and epic proportions to their sacred motherland. Generations to come will acknowledge that there once lived a scornful syndicate ring of quisling generation in Manipur, who abandoned it to a state of cinders, in their lust and avarice for power. The Quit Gaddi Movement was, therefore, a symptomatic manifestation of the deep malaise afflicting a select group of Manipur intelligentsia who in 1949, in a big way, let down and sold out Manipur for personal gains in their fervent hope to climb up the ladder of political ascendency trajectory, which they could not, when Maharaja Bodh Chandra and Capt. M.K. Priya Brata were at the helm of affairs and the Praja Shanti party led government was the ruling dispensation.
Needless to stress, reviewers of history will duly take note of the fact that the period of 1947-49 was one of the best eras witnessed in Manipur’s historical timeline. It existed as proud independent State with self-sufficient economy, on the lap of bounteous mother-nature, then. There was no rice scarcity looming in the horizon as it happened in 1939 or during wartime. The people were content with the level of food production. Level of education consciousness was increasing resulting in increased number of enrollment in schools across the land. On the political front, Manipur was increasingly veering towards enlightened monarchy with introduction of democracy and holding of popular elections in July, 1948. Modern cabinet form of government duly representing the mandate of the people took office on 26 November, 1948 and was fully functioning well. In June 1949, Finance Minister Arambam Ibungotomcha presented a well balanced budget reflecting a state of sound economy showing impressive revenue surpluses. Manipur was not a parasite economy as it was gradually reduced into after merger into the Indian union. From 1947-49, it was a tiny, small but proud, independent, sovereign, self-sufficient and self-content kingdom-nation, nestling on the western fringes of Southeast Asia. However, such an idyllic state of existence was not to last long as the fate of the people of Manipur would have it.
The episode of merger into Indian union in 1949 would terminate and put paid to Manipur’s well-contented independent, ‘separate existence’ (so to use the then ruling Praja Shanti party’s term). Come merger in October, 1949, the fate, status and position of Manipur would come to signify the sordid affliction-sign i.e. ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’ phenomenon (See Kangleipakta Revolution by Paonam Labango Mangang, published by Khuraijam Sanatombi Singh, Imphal 1997 Pg. 21). For Manipur had been just released from the yoke of colonial British rule in 1947, which lasted long fifty-five years, after its annexation following defeat in the 1891 Anglo-Manipur War. Then, all of a sudden, coming as a bolt from the blue, it took just two years for Manipur to cease to exist as independent unit, following which it was merged into the Indian union in the year 1949.
What was unstoppable to happen indeed happened, that is, merger of Manipur into the Indian union, as per the will and design of fate and destiny. Yet, when one scans through the pages of history, the appearance of the sight of an abominable lot of a collaborationist, fifth-columnist, illegitimate sons of Manipur, who trampled upon and sacrificed the interests of their motherland, while jockeying for power and political gains, will certainly render an eerie sense of disgust and detestable dislike, of these perfidious, blackguard betrayers in the eyes of the both historical reviewers and forthcoming generations alike; undeniably, unquestionably, unfailingly and to top all that, unceasingly for all times to come. (To be contd.)