Taking the debates outside a TV studio Ugly, very ugly trend

It was ugly and it has gotten uglier. Just one day after two not so gentle gentlemen, representing the big two-BJP and the Congress-went hammer and tongs against each other, coupled with reports that some supporters of one of them ‘waited’ for the other, after a discussion or debate on a local TV channel, came the news that one of them was waylaid and assaulted late in the night somewhere at Lamphel, though the identities of the attackers are yet to be established. Pictures of the injured spokesman, who represented the BJP during the no holds barred ‘arguments’ on the TV channel, lying at JN Hospital, went viral on the social media. Just one day after the assault, Congress members staged a sit-in protest in front of Congress Bhavan denouncing the alleged attempt to set their office on fire allegedly by suspected BJYM members the previous evening. Rival political parties taking digs and confronting each other is understandable, but when debates and the differences are sought to be settled via fisticuffs and plain acts of goodaism then something, somewhere is obviously very wrong. Or is this the understanding of politics in the new millennium is a question that may well be raised. Manipur was never like this. True, things like TV channels were yet to see the light of dawn, but all differences were understood via witty digs and exchange of highly ‘intelligent’ debates. It never, ever descended to the level of fisticuffs, which is nothing more than plain goondaism and street rowdyism. And what was the debate on the local TV channel about ? Was it more about running down the other party, an exercise in lung power and verbal diatribes or did it have anything for the people to learn ? Remember no TV programmes on the local TV channels come with ‘restricted certificates’ and all, including the elder members of the family, the youngsters who are at an impressionable age, together tune in to the TV. What messages are the two spokespersons of the two political parties trying to convey to the people ? That they can shout down the other and engage anyone in very verbal diatribes ? Let the people judge, but it sure was a reflection of the reality that the political class cares two hoots about the sensibilities of the people. And it is ths political class which largely decide through Government offices, which decide what people should watch and not watch.
Plain goondaism and it is a big disappointment to see that the level of politics has descended to such a level that whatever differences either side had inside the TV studio should spill over to the streets. Or at least this is what seems like it. Has Manipur come to such a pass, that young people who have been appointed to different posts in the youth body or any other offices of political parties, should allow their street mentality to dictate terms ? Differences between political parties and even between political personalities is a given and this is where one is reminded of the witty repartees and witty exchanges of words between the late Rishang Keishing and late W Nipamacha. Examples are galore. The verbal duel between the late I Tompok and other political leaders, notably with again, Rishang Keishing are stories that are still recounted with a sense of nostalgia. The digs that the veteran O Joy took when he was identified as Opposition Joy at the entire ruling bench of the Assembly are lessons that need to be imparted to young folks who have hitched their wagon on some political parties. One is inclined to believe that what Manipur has just witnessed inside and outside the TV studio is an indication of the level of politics that has hit rock bottom. This was not the first time that debates on local TV channels have taken ugly turns, and this is where it would do good for all the politicians of the State to search deep inside and study how the seeds of such a culture were sown in the first place. Not the time for finger pointing but an exercise to sincerely look inward and see why the understanding of politics as of today has hit rock bottom, a nadir.