Congress : Uncharacteristically quiet Down from 42, 28 to 5

The State Congress has been uncharacteristically quiet save for opening up when there are some incidents, such as the recent alleged custodial death of a goldsmith or against the poll expenditure statement of the Chief Minister. Is this good for the land and the people ? There will be different answers to this but it stands that democracy is all about a strong and effective Government as well as a strong Opposition. Power is undoubtedly crucial whenever one talks about the power equation, but intrinsic in the understanding of a democracy is the responsibility of the people who get elected, not on whether he or she belongs to the ruling bench. This is about the universal understanding of a democracy and this is where the poser on the stoic silence of the Congress becomes relevant. With the NPP, JD (U), KPA and Independents who got elected having extended their support to the BJP, which has 32 MLAs, it is the Congress alone which is understood as the Opposition in Manipur and this is where it would need all the Congress MLAs to understand what is expected of them as the Opposition. Election may be about the game of numbers, and here the Congress has every reason to feel down, but it should be noted that the blow which will make it go out of the reckoning is not only the number but how well the party continues to function and a lot depends on how its elected representatives function. Coming down to 5 MLAs from a strong of 42 after the 2012 Assembly election, down from the 28 seats it actually won in the 2017 Assembly election, the Congress obviously has every reason to feel down, but it shouldn’t let the inertia linger on further. It is not the case of this paper to bat for the Congress by any stretch of the imagination, but what Manipur needs is a strong Opposition. This should go beyond the number equation and encompass something more. And the first point here for the Congress should be to understand the pulse beat of the people. In power for 15 consecutive years here and if the oldest political power is still struggling to understand the pulse beat of the people, then it has only itself to blame. If this is the case then it should start by publicly apologising to the people shedding the haughtiness which got ingrained in it while being in power for 15 long years.
The Congress should also come to the point that while it slept over matters which are crucial to the people, the saffron party has gone ahead to address them. The extension of the Inner Line Permit System to Manipur is one case. Another case is transforming the Look East Policy to Act East Policy, which sounds much more promising than just the policy of Looking East. It should also acknowledge that economic blockades, so frequently imposed by the hill based organisations such as the United Naga Council, have been virtually absent during the more than 5 years of BJP rule at Imphal. This literally means that there are no serpentine queues in front of petrol pumps and a thriving black market for fuel. These are some points that come to mind and it would do well for the oldest political party in the country to come to terms with the fact that somewhere, somehow they lost touch with the reality. These are points which the Congress failed to acknowledge in the long years it was in power here and it should now start the process of setting certain things right. The country and obviously Manipur need a strong Congress or a strong Opposition and it is disappointing that a party which gave outstanding personalities such as the late Rishang Kei- shing, late RK Dorendra (before he switched allegiance), O Ibobi, Gaikhangam etal should today be reduced to its present stage, where it seems to be fumbling to pick up the right issue on behalf of the people.