2020 : Decisive for the BJP in Manipur Looking forward to 2022

Decisive for the BJP. That is perhaps how the saffron party will look back at 2020 when the world steps into 2021 in 24 hours from now. Despite the global pandemic and the increasing number of deaths and positive cases, despite the huge economic losses and despite the blow hot, blow cold stand adopted by its partner in Government, the NPP, the BJP as a political party heading the Government has come out stronger. So it is that from a party with 21 MLAs after the 2017 Assembly elections to the 28 MLAs of the Congress, its principal opponent, the BJP today enjoys the support of over 30 MLAs in a House of 52 MLAs. Where the BJP stands in the eyes of the electorate is perhaps best summed up by the fact that of the five Assembly seats which went to by polls, the BJP was able to bag four seats. What must have made the sweep in the by polls all that more sweeter is the fact that even the one seat which did not end in the BJP’s kitty was won by an Independent candidate and not the Congress. Again significant to note that this Independent candidate has announced his decision to extend support to the BJP. Moving closer to their slogan of Congress Mukt and the State BJP leadership must be a satisfied lot. Will 2021 be any better for the BJP is one question which all keen political watchers in Manipur must be toying around with and lest one forgets, it stands that the stronger the BJP gets, it would mean the Congress getting weaker. On the contrary it also stands that the more strength the Congress gains, the weaker the BJP will become and by dint of the fact that these are the two principal political parties in India at the moment, the two will obviously be looking beyond the scheduled 2022 Assembly elections in Manipur.
2022 is a little over one year away and the think tank of both the BJP and the Congress must have started studying what the situation may be like a little after one year. The first litmus test for the BJP Government, both at Imphal and at New Delhi, will obviously be the ongoing political negotiations between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM). With the NNPGs having already made it clear that their focus is on Nagaland and not beyond, it is the dialogue with the NSCN (IM) which has grabbed attention in Manipur and elsewhere. The BJP led Government at New Delhi has already delivered a powerful political statement in extending the Inner Line Permit System, and thereby fulfilling one long pending demand of the people. The interesting question now is whether the BJP led Government can understand the pulse of the people and walk the tightrope to ink the final deal with the NSCN (IM) without ruffling the hair of the people on either side of the Lim divide. How the BJP Government goes about dealing with the ongoing peace process and the pending final pact will go a long way in deciding its political future in Manipur. The next point obviously is how ready is the BJP Government at New Delhi to sympathetically study the demand put up by certain sections of the people that the Meiteis be included in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India. This question is important for the green signal to recognise a number of communities in Assam as STs has been given. How the BJP deals with the issues mentioned here will determine how 2021 and beyond turn out for the saffron party.