From High Court to Supreme Court ? Interesting issues ahead
Not exactly moving fast, but things are getting interesting. Interesting in the sense that Dr Lorho Pfoze who has been the MP from Manipur Outer Parliamentary Constituency for the last three years that is from 2019 till the invalidation of his election on September 23, 2022, is now a commoner. On the other hand, the erstwhile MP from the NPF has declared that he will challenge the verdict of the High Court of Manipur in the Supreme Court and certainly things can only get interesting. Whether justice has been served in the ruling of the High Court of Manipur that the man who came second, Benjamin Mate of the BJP, is now the elected MP or not is best left to the wisdom of the honourable Court and so is the question of whether Mate is the man who received the mandate of the people. Afterall election is about receiving the mandate of the people. So from Imphal to New Delhi it is going to be and apart from this, it is also interesting to see the debates raging on after the State Government decided to lift prohibition and allow sale of alcohol, ever since Manipur became a dry State in 1991. The debate will still rage whether prohibition has worked or not, whether the State or anyone has the right to decide what one should eat and drink, whether it is right for the State to jeopardise the health of the citizens by allowing the free sale of alcohol, whether it is an open admission that the State has miserably failed to effectively enforce a decision it took more than 30 years back ! Debates will also continue on whether the Meeteis/Meiteis are such a high class or high caste people that they should not be included in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India. All points which can continue to cast its long shadow on the people and the land as a whole and one hopes that the true essence of a debate is not lost on anyone. When prohibition was imposed or rather the anti-alcohol campaign gained momentum, there was no room for debate and there was a time when newspapers published from Imphal were adorned by paid publications, after so and so were caught drinking !
One hopes that Manipur has progressed from that stage and the people are now more willing to engage in verbal debates that will hopefully not degenerate into pulling up anyone by intimidation. Just like prohibition, intimidation is not known to have worked over a period of time. At best it can only address the symptoms without going into the real cause of the issue. In a way a somewhat ‘comical mixture’ of issues, ranging from the decision to lift prohibition and by extension alcohol consumption to whether the Meeteis/Meiteis fit the bill to be clubbed in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India to the disqualification of an elected member of Lok Sabha, Manipur can certainly expect to see interesting days ahead. As noted above, one only hopes that these ‘issues’ do not take an ugly turn and everyone learns to accept that there can be different viewpoints such as whether Manipur should continue with the tag of being a dry State or not. It should also be acknowledged that the anti-liquor group/s is/are an organised lot and hence one can understand the series of protests that have been held across Imphal in the last few days. At best those who are in favour of lifting prohibition can only voice their opinion or stand in an individual capacity and one can certainly not expect any ‘pro-lift prohibition’ group taking to the street. Whatever the stand, Manipur can certainly expect to see interesting days ahead.