First manifesto, then candidates list Vote against AFSPA ?

Step 1 : Reach out to the people with its election manifesto. Step 2 : Announce the first list of its candidates. Obvious that the NPP has done its job well so far and it is more than clear that it intends to make further inroads into Manipur, eyeing to go better than its tally of four elected in the 2017 Assembly polls. Homework done it appears, and it has obviously managed to touch the right chord of the people by stressing in clear cut terms that it will work towards revocation of the dreaded and much ‘maligned’ Armed Forces Special Powers Act. No twisting its agenda with the use of some clever words in so far as the Army Act is concerned and this is something which would have been noted. Whether this will translate into votes or not is something which will only be known once the counting is finalised, but in Conrad Sangma, the NPP has a leader who seems intent on touching the right chord with the people. How sincerely it will go towards getting the Army Act revoked is something which only time can tell, but in stressing on this point in its poll manifesto, the NPP has made its stand clear. A trend it could be but it may not be realistic to expect ‘Nationalist’ political parties like the BJP and the Congress to include this promise in its election manifesto and thereby hangs a tale. Let it also be very clear that demanding the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act cannot and should not be construed as running counter to the idea of Nationalism for the calling ‘Nation first’ can always be adhered to without resorting to this Army Act. The NPP has set the ball rolling reaching out first with its election manifesto and then coming out with   the first list of its candidates and this is where one may be left wondering when the election manifesto of the Congress will reach the people. First reaching out to the people with the manifesto is also perhaps one of the more right ways to go about it, for it can give the people enough time to digest the stand of the party concerned, before coming down on the list of its candidates. Manifestoes can be read and understood without the need of knowing who is behind the manifesto or who its candidates are and this may give the people more time to better understand the finer points with the choice of candidates not clouding people’s sight of the points laid down.
Human rights and by extension the continued imposition of AFSPA in the region has for long been the calling card of quite a large number of people, but nowhere in the recent past has this become a focal point or a prominent point in any Assembly election. How far the open statement of the NPP will go to wake the other political parties to this is something which may not be known immediately but already an important agenda has been raised. This is where it would be interesting to see how the voters respond to the all important point that has been raised and delivered. With the Congress and the NPP having announced the first list of the candidates, the other political parties are likely to follow soon too and as stated earlier in this column, all eyes will be on the BJP, where there are at least 2/3/4 intending BJP candidates in each Constituency. The interesting question at this moment is how the others who are overlooked will respond once the list is announced. With some top BJP leaders of Manipur already in New Delhi, speculations are rife and the heightened security ring that one saw in the evening of January 23 around the office of Manipur BJP only added more grist to the speculations. How the BJP is able to translate the interest of the people on its list into votes is something which will only be known once counting is over but for the moment it is the saffron party which seems to be central to the coming Assembly election. This is something which no one would have associated with the saffron party before 2017, but now that it has, it remains to be seen how smartly the BJP names its candidates.