People’s suggestions in drafting manifesto Reaching out

Moving beyond ‘keeping the door open for dialogue or negotiation, but extending a hand to help the other move into the negotiating table.’ This is what may be read in the announcement of Chief Minister N Biren that people are welcome to pen down their suggestions and submit the same so that when the election manifesto of the BJP is inked, it will include the aspirations of the people. Skeptics may see this as a populist measure to win the people over, with the next Assembly election poised to be held in the early part of 2022, but there is something refreshing in the move of the saffron party. To give substance to the announcement, the Chief Minister also announced for all to hear and read that three suggestion boxes will be put up at each Assembly Constituency and the same may also be e-mailed to a particular mail address, which has already been given in the newspapers published from Imphal. How will the response of the people be to the new move of the BJP is something which will be known in the coming days, but more important is, how sincerely will the election manifesto of the BJP reflect the aspirations of the people ? This again is something which only time can tell, but this surely is a beginning and one hopes there is a good response from the people, folks who have the interest of the land and her people in mind. This raises the question of what policy the BJP led Government at Imphal has taken up to combat the flow of smuggled drugs into the State ? Is it still correct to view Manipur as just a transit point with the drugs coming from the infamous Golden Triangle only to be smuggled out or has Manipur become a sort of a destination point for drugs consignments ? This question is raised in the backdrop of the huge seizure of heroin and crystal meth recently worth over Rs 500 crore at Moreh recently. This is besides the manufacturing units which have been busted on more than one or two occasion in the State and clearly a clear cut policy on how to combat the rampant abuse of drugs is the call of the hour. This is where the BJP led Government would need to go one step up from its catchy slogan ‘War on Drugs’. And when one talks about ‘War on Drugs’ can the different rehabilitation centres which have sprung up all over the place be given the cold shoulder ? Has the State Government worked out a policy on how these centres should be run and how they are funded ? Perhaps it would help if the election manifesto of the BJP makes a mention of the points raised here.
Putting the process into gear ahead of the coming Assembly election and as the party heading the Government, the BJP is obviously poised to go to town trumpeting its ‘achievements’ in the last 4.5 years. The half paged/quarter paged advertisements which have been adorning Page 1 of all the major newspapers published in Imphal in the last many days should underline this point. Nothing wrong in trumpeting one’s own achievements or what one has done for the people since it came to power, but there is also the need to spell out what it intends to do. More importantly have the efforts or works taken up in say 2018, 2019 or even 2020, still benefiting the people ? This is a question which the BJP and its backroom boys should be wrecking their minds over so that it is in a position to say that the fruits of the Government are still being reaped by the people. Any Government worth its salt should be able to look beyond the next five years and see what its vision for the place and the people are, say 10,15 or even 20 years down the line. This is where the question of a farsighted leader arises and the interesting point is whether the Chief Minister and his Council of Ministers would be able to say that the seeds of the fruits which the people are relishing ‘today’ were sown 10 or 15 or even 20 years back by the BJP led Government. Let this be another angle to approach the coming Assembly election and as pointed out earlier here, one point which the BJP can look to deliver is by working out a long term ‘drug policy’ where primacy should be placed not only on nailing the big fishes but also on how to rehabilitate the numerous young boys and girls who may have fallen prey to drug abuse. Take the opinion of the people and work on it and one hopes that the numerous civil society organisations will forward their suggestions to be incorporated in the election manifesto of the BJP. Take note, there are people who do take the election manifestos of the political parties seriously and even let them be the deciding factor on D Day.