Reaching out before voting day What are the issues ?
Election is at hand. Political parties, candidates, supporters and workers are leaving nothing to chance to gain the trust and confidence of the people which in turn will translate into vote. The election fever is complete and everyone seems to know one thing or the other on how the result will unfold, with some having gone to the extent of working out the probable winner Constituency by Constituency and in the process naming the probable winners. The ultimate analysis is how many seats the BJP will bag, how many the Congress will win and what role the other political parties will play, such as the NPP, the NPF and JD (U) in the post poll scenario. All possibilities and dare one say all interesting. Given that many have pointed to the strong likelihood of Manipur seeing yet another hung Assembly and with not all going right between the BJP and the NPP, at least till now, the race seems wide open. Amid the tough talks and tall claims coming forth from the BJP, Congress and the NPP, it is the NPF which seems to have kept to its own, quietly doing its work and this is what is refreshing. The BJP has already had noted personalities, including the Prime Minister himself campaigning for the party and the Congress too with Rahul Gandhi, just one day apart (February 21 and February 22) and even as this is being noted down, talks are doing the round on which of the two personalities drew a larger crowd. No definite answer, but the fact that such a talk is doing the round is a testimony that the people are taking the election seriously and this is something to be noted. For the NPP, Meghalaya Chief Minister and its National president Conrad Sangma has been regularly visiting Manipur in the last few days and many will remember how the young man from Meghalaya became the rallying point for the then anti-CAB protest. How this will translate into vote is again something which will be known only when the votes are counted and the results declared ! The NPF too has seen a number of its leaders from Nagaland coming here and attempting to win over the people with their stress on Naga identity and oneness. All pointers to the fact that the different political parties have taken the coming election with the seriousness it deserves and the people too seem to have responded to the sense of importance demonstrated by the different political parties.
The sense of importance and the primacy placed on the coming Assembly election is noted but what is surprising is to see that there just does not seem to be an overwhelming one or two or even three issue around which the election is being fought. If the 2017 Assembly election was about giving a chance to another dispensation other than the Congress (Remember the Congress fell short of a simple majority winning 28 seats in the House of 60), the 2012 Assembly election was more about protecting the territorial integrity of Manipur, best exemplified by the polarised position taken up by the Congress on the one side and the NPF on the other. The 2007 Assembly election was also more about protecting the sanctity of the geo-political reality called Manipur. The question is, what is or are the issues around which the 2022 Assembly election is being fought ? There just does not seem to be an overwhelming one or two or even three issue and this is what is interesting. Is it a case of the BJP led Government at Imphal and New Delhi having being successful in addressing sensitive issues around which political parties could have rallied around ? Or is it a case of the BJP having failed to come up with a catch phrase around which to centre its campaign ? Either way it is interesting to note that there just does not seem to be any overwhelming issue which have been sold to the people this time around. This is interesting. But any serious taker for AFSPA as an issue ?