Huge mandate implies momentous responsibility

No doubt, securing as many as 32 seats in the 60-Member House is no mediocre achievement. It was also a rare distinction that a single party managed to get absolute majority. Of course, there was a case of Congress party bagging 42 seats in the past. The mandate is clear and loud that BJP would rule the State for the next five years at the least. Perhaps, necessitated by political equations in other States and keeping in view the Lok Sabha election which is due in 2024, BJP, though comfortably placed to form the Government on its own, opted to take along its allies. Awangbow Newmai of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) has been already sworn in as a Cabinet Minister. At the same time, Nongthombam Biren Singh has been given the hot seat of Chief Minister for the second consecutive term. With five years of experience in his credentials, N Biren is now undoubtedly better placed to discharge his duties and responsibilities as the head of the Government. Corresponding to the huge mandate they won in the recent election, BJP’s responsibilities toward the people are equally momentous.  It is quite interesting to note that NPP, NPF, JD-U, KPA and all the three newly elected independent MLAs have volunteered to extend support to the BJP Government which means there is only the Congress party on the opposition bench. It also implies that 55 MLAs are supporters of N Biren Government whereas the opposition party’s strength is limited to just five legislators. It needs no reminder that the roles of opposition parties are always crucial in any democracy. Only time can tell whether the five Congress legislators can play the roles of an effective and responsible opposition party.  With 55 MLAs on their side, the new Government will find little difficulty in pushing forward new policies, programmes and resolutions.  This does not mean the Government should bulldoze its way over any objection or criticism. There should be ample room for criticism in any democracy.
If the opposition party’s voice is too weak on the floor of the State Assembly, citizens can definitely don the roles of opposition parties, and there were multiple instances of citizens coming to streets to protest unpopular Government policies and decisions when opposition parties failed to raise their voice or could not check the Government. We hope the new Government would be receptive, not reactive, to criticisms. It is heartening to note that the new Government has cut out its tasks for the next 100 days. The first Cabinet meeting of the new Government approved ‘100 tasks in 100 days’ programme. This is indeed a promising start for the new Government. The Cabinet meeting also adopted two bold decisions of making Manipur corruption-free and drug-free. These two decisions are very tough calls of the new Government. When corruption has been accepted as a societal norm and drug menace has grown all pervasive, the resolutions to make Manipur corruption-free and drug-free demand sustained campaigns driven by the right doses of political will and supported by all stakeholders. As for the resolution to make Manipur drug-free, the new Government may start by reviewing the War on Drugs campaign. It must be acknowledged that despite the previous Government’s War on Drugs campaign, poppy cultivation was/is thriving in many hill areas and there are reports of seizure of different kinds of drugs in different parts of the State every alternate day, if not every day. To reach   out to various armed groups operating in the region in order to bring lasting peace in the State was another significant resolution of the maiden Cabinet meeting. Every citizen would definitely welcome any initiative to bring lasting peace in the troubled State called Manipur. But this is a very tricky area which demands utmost sincerity on the part of the Government. Only time can tell how things will unfold and whether the new Government can take the State forward.