Contd from previous issue
To reiterate once again, one may recall that a new form of elected government was sworn into office in November, 1948. A popular government, duly chosen by the mandate of the people, was functioning in full swing.
But then, as unfortunately as ever, a motley group of Manipur State Congress partymen took to the streets orchestrating a charade of a political movement, known as the Quit Gaddi Movement, which was embedded with an underlying motive and nefarious design to dethrone Maharaja Bodh Chandra with a view to abolish monarchy in Manipur and subsequently merge Manipur into Indian union so that reins of administration is taken over by the Government of India totally obliterating the monarchical disposition so that these power hungry Congressmen can fill in the vacuum created, which nakedly exposes their avarice for power. And in doing so, these ‘little odious vermin’ Congressmen, very sadly, did not realize that, they were becoming a party to, effectively put an end to millennia old tradition of Meitei kingship. Therefore, these perfidious Congressmen therefore go down as a quisling generation who unmaketh Manipur in 1949.
The earliest sign visible as precursor to clamour and campaign for Quit Gaddi Movement can be traced to a public meeting organized by Ngangom Tompok, the then Secretary, Manipur State Congress, held in Kakching on 21 June, 1949 where they passed a resolution stating that ‘continuation of the gadi [note the spelling difference with commonly used Gaddi] is a standing impediment to the welfare [of the people] and demanded in its last session [date and time of this particular session the Congress party session is not known] the immediate abolition of the gadi and integration of the State to the Centre for the benefit of the people. This meeting whole heartedly supports the State Congress demand and its decision to launch a movement for the purpose. It is also resolved that if and when the movement is launched according to the direction the Congress High Command[,] all possible helps be rendered and workers and volunteers of the Burma road be prepared to join the movement.’ (See Copy of the resolution sent by Mr. Ng. Tompok Singh, Secretary, Manipur State Congress to the Maharaja of Manipur vide Memo No. 518-23/L-II(c) dated 4.7.49, cited in Resistance dated July 24, 1979 Pg. 6)
Beside the revolting tenor of language expressed in the resolution, Mr. Ngangom Tompok steered Manipur State Congress’ resolution further went on to make a vicious diatribe against the Maharaja Bodh Chandra stating that ‘meeting of the Congress workers and the general public of the Burma Road remonstrate its strong feelings against oppressions by the Maharaja in annual matters of the Sylvan deities and arbitrary and money-making appointment of feudal chieflings, oppressions being done sometimes by himself and sometimes by his village chieflings under the cover of his influence.
The Maharajah besides draining the State income by drawing about rupees two lakhs a year, is sitting like an octopus upon people with the advantage of his position as ruler. The Maharajah, his relatives and favourites are acquiring large lands to the deprivation of the same to the poor villagers. Moreover the Maharajah is oppressing the people in social and religious matters too through the Brahmasabha, a body nominated by the Maharajah himself by abusing the institution of Mangba and Sengba i.e. social excommunication.’(ibid.)
In no time, Maharaja Bodh Chandra struck back, pointedly, rebutting all the charges made against him by the Manipur State Congress’ vitriolic attack on him. In his letter to the Governor of Assam, Sri Prakasa, dated 25 June, 1949, he roundly upbraided and exposed hollowness of the Congress party’s charges leveled against him as it were built foundations of sand, arguing in the following words: ‘[s]ince the State Congress here want power and position and they were given the best chance. During the election of the Constitution-Making Committee members as a result of my support in their favour in all the constituencies they got the majority and drafted the Constitution Act of the State for whose merits though they challenged the people they are now beginning to violate it. I allowed these Congress people to form the State Ministry for more than 15 months and once they were in power there was a Satyagraha launched by one Congress party against the Congress Ministry in power for scramble for power but to no effect. Thus practically there was misrule they proving themselves a failure. People lost confidence in them. The State was mismanaged. The result was that in the general election on adult franchise and joint electorate out of 53 constituencies the Congress got only 13 returned. Now these are the 13 Congress members that are causing the whole show for their personal ends. Instead of trying to regain their lost public confidence they are trying to disturb the leaders of India at such difficult times when we are on our way to make India one of the finest nations of the world’. [See Secret Memorandum No. 2601 P.I-I dated 25.6.49 from Maharaja Bodh Chandra to Sri Prakasa, Governor of Assam (ibid.) Take note that the aforementioned letter of His Highness the Maharaja of Manipur was written just four days after Manipur State Congress party’s Kakching meeting held on 21 June, 1949 which resolved to clamour for abolition monarchy held under the leadership of Ngangom Tompok.]
His Highness further claimed, ‘I am proud that I made a good contribution to India by my introducing a democratic form of government on adult franchise and joint electorate for the first time in India’. Maharaja Bodh Chandra charged the Manipur State Congress as ‘desperate for their undue desire for power and position. They will [seek for] the end but never [bother about] the means. They are launching a Satyagraha against me within the first week of July to force recognition of their Sudh ceremony of a Christian lady, to show their disrespect to me and denial of appointment of the Dewan, my taking an application for election case as allowed by the judgement of the Tribunal itself’. Of the State Congress cabal designs, His Highness warned thus: ‘I am afraid this Sayagraha will be in their own peril and at their own risk since it is an unconstitutional move. There is no SATYA in their actions.’(ibid.)
The die was cast in the summer season of 1949 for a full blown confrontation to come, out in the open, between Maharaja Bodh Chandra and the State government constituted by the Praja Shanti party, which in turn was headed by His Highness’ younger brother Capt. M.K. Priya Brata, on one hand, and the Manipur State Congress party, on the other. Given the intensity of the State Congress party’s bitter, rancorous campaign to abolish monarchy and subsequently, ‘integrate’ Manipur into the then Dominion of India, it did not take long for the belligerent political forces to engage in a flared-up clash and open tussle to take place between them. A political entity that miserably lost out in the then recently concluded popular elections of 1948, which was the condition of the Manipur State Congress party; grossly disaffected and disillusioned for missing the opportunity to sit in the treasury benches of the Assembly, it deliberately set on collision course against the duly elected government of the Praja Shanti party and the time-honoured, time-tested power-structure administering over Manipur that is the traditional institute of Meitei kingship, hurling the most spiteful shenanigans imaginable. One must distinctly note that the institute of monarchy in Manipur had come a long way from being a reactionary feudal system in 1949. It goes without saying that the monarchical dispensation under Maharaja Bodh Chandra was a far cry from feudal institute as it was earlier for it had begun finally to show signs gradually rooting out feudal characteristics and substantially transforming into a reformative state of popular democracy with elected government and assembly.
Amidst these signs of welcome developments, both at political and social level, when the Manipur State Congress tumbled out unraveling as an adversarial political force fully committed to dethroning Maharaja Bodh Chandra, abolish monarchy and completely render the traditional institute of Meitei kingship as null and void, from the political scene of Manipur, the ruling Praja Shanti party government led by Chief Minister Capt. M.K. Priya Brata came down heavily to counter the Congress party motivated, driven and sponsored intrigue-filled plot of Quit Gaddi campaign by imposing a ban the party’s mouthpiece Ngashi newspaper. On 20 July, 1949, the Manipur State Council vide its resolution No. 22 arrived at on the same day decided to cease ‘publication of daily local newspaper NGASI’. The following day, acting upon the Council Resolution, the then Chief Secretary Huidrom Birahari issued formal orders imposing ban on the Ngashi daily on behalf of the His Highness in Council (a.k.a. the Maharaja’s Council). Full text of the official order with respect to Ngashi ban are as follows:
Council Resolution No. 22 of 20.7.49
To consider stoppage of publication of the daily local newspaper “NGASI”.
While always welcoming constructive and healthy criticisms the Council feel that the articles published in the ‘NGASI’ in its recent publications cannot well be said to be within the limits and the Council have decided to withdraw reluctantly their permission granted to the said paper under C.R. No. 5 of 14.7.48 with immediate effect.
By order of H.H. in Council Dated 21.7.49
Sd/- H.B.S. Chief Secretary
Government ban imposed on Ngashi newspaper stirred quite a brouhaha and furore in the Manipur State Congress camp. The party came out crying hoarse, creating a charade of being wronged at by the State authorities. Expectantly, it raised a high-pitched, feverish hue and cry to make their discontentment known. In order to counteract the government clampdown, the party began issuing a series of bulletins where it made sharp acerbic-toned, stinging attack on Maharaja Bodh Chandra while simultaneously clamouring for abolition of monarchy. Just a day after His Highness in Council issued formal orders effecting ban on its mouthpiece, the Manipur State Congress party on 22 July, 1949 came out with ‘leaflet-cum-memorandum’ under a catchy but misleading headline ‘Complete denial of civil liberties in Manipur’ in which it cried hoarse, portraying itself as a victim at the wrong end of Maharaja Bodh Chandra and the State authorities firing line. The following is the copy of the memorandum sent to the Dewan Maj. Gen. Rawal Amar Singh attached with a prayer calling ‘for (his) immediate intervention their improper and illegal ban is removed’:
A pro-Congress daily paper namely ‘NGASI’ has been banned and its publication totally stopped. The Congress paper has been championing the cause of the people and in its editorials the Maharaja and his puppet Cabinet have been criticized for their arbitrary and autocratic rule. The policy of this paper has been to lend support to the people’s demand for the removal of the Gadi and integration of the State to the Centre. Now the only nationalist paper i.e. NGASI, which is the mouthpiece of the State Congress, has been gagged. In the Manipur State there are neither civil liberties nor freedom of press. It may be mentioned that in this connection that one nationalist paper, PRAJA, was also banned sometime back. In the State there is not a single nationalist paper now worth the name, barring a reactionary and royalist paper namely BHAGYABATI, which spreads venom against the State Congress and all progressive forces.
To be contd