Outcome of Feb 28, Mar 5 today ! What were the issues ?
Manipur voted on February 28 and March 5. Now result is at hand and while the victors, their supporters and well wishers will go all the way to trumpet their show at the hustings, many may just not be able to answer straight if asked, on what basis they voted this time. On what issues was the Assembly election fought this time ? No easy answer here. If people did vote for the BJP, then a common refrain that one may expect to hear is that Manipur got rid of the bandhs and blockades which had become synonymous with the State during the 15 years of Congress rule. Another could be the absence of the cry against alleged fake encounter cases, a point which a crime reporter in any major newspaper published from Imphal may be able to elaborate. This meant that late evening information to cover so and so shoot outs and frequent visits to the morgue to gather information reduced dramatically in the last 5 years. But can this development be credited to the BJP led Government alone or to the more than 500 alleged fake encounter cases lodged by EEVFAM and HRA in the Supreme Court of India ? The answer is best left to the people, but the point is, there were no over riding issue which dominated the just held Assembly election. If change was the trump card of the BJP in the 2017 election and the territorial integrity call rung out by the Congress in the 2012 Assembly election, there was no such overriding issue this time. A reflection that the Congress was unable to whip up any issue which could have caught the imagination of the people or the BJP failed to address a point which could have gathered the people around it ? The answer could be anything, but interesting to note that the 2022 Assembly election could go down as one that was fought with no major issue occupying the minds of the people. Apart from the political parties, this reality may also be ascribed to the failure of the numerous civil society organisations to whip up an issue or two which could have captured the imagination of the people. This could be the primary reason why demands such as the inclusion of the Meeteis/Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution failed to register in the consciousness of the people and the different political parties. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act was another issue which was underlined by all the parties, except the BJP, but this certainly was not the main plank around which the campaigning was carried out and this should say something profound. Perhaps the pathetic showing of Irom Sharmila Chanu in the 2017 election was the precursor of how future election will be fought in the State.
With exit polls conducted by different agencies pointing that it is the BJP that will emerge the single largest party after the election, talks are already rife on whether it will be able to cross the magical 30 figure mark in the House of 60 or not. Some exit polls have indicated that it could cross the 30 mark, but then again one can never be so sure of the different exit polls. There have been numerous hits and misses, if the past exit polls across the country are anything to go by and it may just not be politically healthy or politically prudent to bank on the findings of the exit polls. If the poll throws up a hung Assembly then will Manipur again see the coming together of different political parties ? If the BJP is dependent on the support of other political parties to head the next Government, then can one expect a change in the leadership of the next Government ? Will the other coalition partners demand their pound of flesh other than just Ministerial berths ? More importantly will the BJP have the inclination to go back and see if they went wrong in the process of naming the candidates ? Were candidates with the best prospect given the party’s ticket ? These are questions which the BJP may be constrained to study once the election dust settles down which may be any day after the result is announced.