Agenda of the people Make it known
What is it that is so exciting about the prospect of the people voting after a gap of five years to elect the Government of their choice or send their representatives to the Assembly ? For one it is a reminder to the people that it is their Government and the people’s representatives are not some extraterrestrial entities who have been dropped from above. In other words, they have a huge responsibility in deciding what type of Government they want and hence the type of Government they have or don’t have. It is another matter that in the absence of any mechanism to ‘recall’ them once they are elected to the august House, some people’s representatives do go about forgetting the pre-poll promises and assurances with some even going to the extent of duping the people and changing party affiliation midway through. Manipur has seen this many times and so a candidate who got elected on party X is not unknown to have joined party Y since Y is in power ! The irony is such elements continue to garner support from the very set of people who were earlier ‘betrayed’ on the ground that to these people party affiliation does not matter, butt what matters is the individual. Take it whichever one wants, but the 2022 Assembly election is perhaps the time for the people to take one long breath, take a step back and see whether they have been doing justice to the responsibility that comes along with their right to decide who should represent them in the Assembly or Parliament, whatever the case may be. Now with Manipur fast racing towards D Day, the need to start questioning what is it that people want arises. What is it that people expect from the new Government which will come after the 2022 Assembly election ? This is where it would help to put certain points in perspective, learn from history, look at the model of other States which have ‘done well’ for its people and then decide what type of people they would want to represent them. The answer to the question what is it that people want can be long, very long and for brevity sake, the question may be paraphrased as ‘what is that Manipur needs ?’
It is not for nothing why some people hold the view that in many ways Manipur is like a mini-India where different communities live cheek by jowl and where there are competing forces, which often run counter to each other. Whatever the point is, if the founding fathers of the Nation called India could so successfully ensure that democracy can thrive and let it become an important player in Asia and the world, there is no reason why the differences amongst different communities in Manipur cannot be worked out with some political far sightedness, maturity and the ability to look 10,15,20 years ahead. Despite Partition, communal tension, casteism, different forces pulling apart the idea of India, the country has trudged on setting an example of how democracy can be a success in a third world country like India. There is a lesson to be learnt here. Difficult to say how the political netas of the day view the different issues besieging the State and her people, but let it be clear that this is just the right time for the people to lay down what they expect from the new Government, whether the BJP returns to power or whether it is the Congress which forms the next Government. To come anywhere near knowing or understanding what is it that the people of Manipur would want or desire, different political parties would need to flip back through the past five years and see what points stand out. To be sure there must be different pressure groups and civil society organisations which have started studying the point/s that may be laid before all the different political parties and the intending candidates in the sixty Assembly Constituencies and some of them can run counter to each other. The final answer should be on whether it is beneficial to the idea of Manipur as a distinct geo-political entity or not. On the other hand there are political parties which can hardsell their agenda in such a way that after some time it metamorphoses into the aspiration of the people and a case in point here is the Naga People’s Front which seem to have managed to turn its agenda into the aspiration of the people who they claim to represent. This is one reason why the people would need to lay down in clear cut terms what is it that they expect from the Government after the 2022 Assembly elections. Time for the people to start laying down the agenda and herein lies a crucial question on the leadership of the different political parties.