Bracing up for the 2022 Assembly pollsWanted : A strong Opposition
A stable Government-This is what every political party, particularly the party/ies in power would want and this is also good for the people but before D-Day arrives, it is important for the people, particularly those who are set to exercise their franchise rights to come to the point that it is also equally important to have a strong Opposition. After the 2017 Assembly election, the Congress was well placed to play the role of an effective Opposition, with 28 members in the House of 60, and this is something which The Sangai Express had noted with appreciation in the earlier phase of the current term, when the oldest political party seemed intent on keeping a close tab on the working of the BJP led Government. However there were too many Judas Iscariot amongst the MLAs who were elected on the Congress ticket and with time more and more started supping with the BJP, though officially they remained as Congress MLAs. Nothing could have been more farcical than this. The press, particularly The Sangai Express had a field day reporting the ‘here now, there tomorrow, and day after ?’ and as the quoted words show, the reports were always left open ended for it would have been hazardous to predict how things would or were likely to progress. This is a point which the people should keep in mind before they punch the button on the Electronic Voting Machine on D-Day and lest it is forgotten where they press the button can have a an impact for the next five years. This is where the onus lies on the electorate, the people who have been given the right to choose who should represent them for the next five years in the Assembly and in the case of the Parliamentary election, the Lok Sabha. As repeatedly pointed out in this column, the fight will probably be between the big two, the BJP and the Congress, with the National People’s Party (NPP) and the Naga People’s Front (NPF), likely to be king makers. While the BJP has already more than hinted that it is more inclined to the idea of forming the Government on its own, it should not be forgotten that its strength lies in taking other political parties along. This is a best exemplified by the BJP led NDA Government at New Delhi, where the BJP has thought it better to go along with other like minded political parties rather than going it alone, though the numbers did give them the mandate to go it alone.
That the two parties are taking the coming election seriously can be underlined from the fact that their Central leaders have already started landing at Imphal to highlight their ‘achievements.’ How much this has cut with the people remains to be seen and it was interesting to see AICC Manipur in charge Bhakta Charan Das going hammer and tongs against the ‘Give us votes, we will bring peace in Manipur’ call of Chief Minister N Biren on December 3. True, guns no longer boom as it did earlier. Reports of ‘Killed in shoot-out when so and so opened fire on a group of patrolling policemen’ etc are no longer regular news items now but remember such instances saw a remarkable drop after the Supreme Court of India started hearing the case brought forth by EEVFAM and HRA some years back. Moreover bandhs and blockades are no longer as frequent as it was earlier. One just have to recall the days when private vehicles, both two wheelers and four wheelers, had to stand in long queues overnight in front of a petrol pump. As professionals working in the media, it was not an uncommon sight to see queues in front of the PCTC retail outlet stretching from the oil pump to as far as the western gate of DM College while returning home. Those were the days when petrol and diesel used to be sold in the black at astronomical rates and even here it was a case of knowing where to go to procure the fuel that one needed. In fact, when the BJP led Government came to power here riding on the support extended by the NPP, NPF, one Independent and some rogue Congress MLAs, the UNC sponsored economic blockade was still on over the creation of new districts by the then Congress Government in the winter of 2016. However to take sole credit for having checked the rampant blockades during the earlier regime would be missing the trees for the woods, for remember the NPF, which is a political party batting for the aspirations of the Nagas is very much a part of the BJP led Government. On the other hand it would also be wrong to totally dismiss the stand of the Congress on certain matters which are of utmost importance to the people. It was the Congress Government which opposed the Census of 2001 where unnatural population growth was recorded in some hill districts and which would have meant a delimitation exercise where there could be a shift in distribution of Assembly seats. The stand of the State Congress is also without any doubt on the territorial integrity of Manipur. No wonder the said party has been boycotted by powerful elements in the hill districts dominated by the Nagas. It is still some more months before election day, but with the hectic canvassing on, how the next Government performs will depend to a large extent on how strong the Opposition is. This perhaps is one of the more beautiful facets of democracy.