Emergence of the ‘others’ Eyes on NPP, NPF, JD (U)
The Big Two-Obviously they will remain the BJP and the Congress. But the interesting part is the probability of the 2022 Assembly election turning out to be the Time of the ‘others.’ The ‘others’ will obviusly be read as the National People’s Party, Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the Janata Dal United-JD (U). And it is these ‘others’ which will in all probability decide which party assumes the seat of power. This is what has added that extra dose of interest to the coming Assembly election and underlines the importance of the candidates standing for the election on the tickets of these political parties. The NPP and the NPF are coalition partners in the current BJP led Government and their importance lies not only in being part of the Government, but in the very fact that it was these parties with four MLAs each, which ensured that the Congress was kept out of power and the BJP came in. The statistics or figures of the 2017 Assembly election must still be in the minds of all readers and five years hence, there is nothing much to suggest that the days of the one party rule has returned. It is probably this which has led Deputy Chief Minister and NPP MLA Y Joykumar to repeatedly say that Manipur will not see a repeat of the 2012 Assembly results when the Congress was the clear winner bagging 42 seats in the 60 member Assembly. This may run counter to what the BJP has been trumpeting, with the Chief Minister himself and the State BJP unit president Sharda Devi making it clear that the BJP is looking forward to bagging more than 40 seats to form the Government all by itself. With so many intending candidates lining up for the saffron party’s ticket in almost all the Assembly segments, it was but natural that not all could be accommodated and obviously it was these ‘other’ political parties which the ‘looked over’ intending candidates flocked to for tickets to face the election. Thus the emergence of the JD (U) as an important player in some Assembly Constituencies and in a tightly contested election, three/four MLAs can make all the difference between being on the Treasury bench and the Opposition bench.
So it is that parties which were born at Kohima and in far away Patna have today come to occupy pivotal positions. Even NPP which was reportedly founded in Manipur, rose to prominence only after it moved to Shillong ! And interesting to note that these ‘others’ seem well placed to decide which party will lead the next Government in Manipur. This is about political parties from Patna, Shillong and far away Patna and this is where one is left wondering what has happened to Manipur’s own home grown party the Manipur People’s Party. With everything indicating that Manipur may not see the complete dominance of one party after the Assembly election, it is rather disappointing that the home grown MPP is nowhere there in the reckoning of the people. This is a sad commentary on a party which was once the only party to give a good fight to the Congress and gave Manipur more than one Chief Minister. And a Lok Sabha MP to boot. In fact such was its position on the political turf of Manipur that the bicycle which is its political symbol, was the lexicon of the common people. This is not a sentimental look at the past, but a grim reminder that while political parties from Kohima, Patna and now Shillong have come to occupy positions of influence and eminence, the MPP is nowhere there in the political calculation of anyone. So look at Patna, Kohima and Shillong and turn one’s back on Imphal or the spot behind polo ground which is synonymous with the head office of the MPP may be a line that sums up the reality that is MPP today. And there is nothing good about this.