Interesting run up to LS polls Interests of Manipur

Interesting stage, one may say. The Big 2 have not yet announced their candidates, either in the Inner Parliamentary Constituency or the Outer Parliamentary Consti- tuency but this has not stopped numerous ‘poll pundits’ from coming forward and sharing their thoughts and ideas, all based on speculations. And perhaps no other Lok Sabha election has elicited as much interest as this time around and one just has to look back at 2019, 2014, 2009 and 2004 in the current millennium to get an idea of the point that is being sought to be made here. This is particularly true in the case of the Inner Parliamentary Constituency and one does not need to look far to understand why this is so. The day for all voters to remember is May 3, 2023 and the days that followed thereafter and despite the mayhem, the deaths, the displacement of thousands, one positive that can be pinpointed is the realisation of the people that they are as much political beings as the professional politicians. It has also awakened quite a large number of people to the immense responsibility they have in sending their representative to the floor of Parliament and hence the talk seems centred around the ability, the professional expertise of the intending candidates, their background, their past conduct and this is something which Manipur badly needs at this point of time. One only hopes that this trend sustains for years to come and does not get blown away by the ‘enticements’ usually offered in the run up to any election. How were the interests of Manipur put forth before the audience during the height of the conflict is a question that each voter must ask himself or herself. How did the stand spelt out by the respective intending candidates go to deflate the false narrative that had been lapped up across the country during the initial days of the conflict ? In short how were the interests of Manipur succinctly put across the discerning folks of not only the country but across the world ? Remember the ethnic conflict had come up for discussion in the European Parliament. All these are immediate points that need to be kept in mind and much will depend on how the voters exercise their choice. It is also important for everyone to keep in mind that the button they push on the EVM on voting day will go a long way in how the interests of Manipur will be presented on the floor of Parliament. This is a point which should have ideally been raised in all the past Lok Sabha elections that Manipur has seen, but the need to reiterate this is not felt as much as now.
Just five days to go for the nomination papers to be filed on March 27 and while the BJP and the Congress have not officially named their candidates, all plans must have been drawn up. It also stands that the candidate the BJP names can have a bearing on the ongoing ethnic clash and it is not likely for the Central leadership of the BJP to have missed this. How it goes about addressing this point remains to be seen but the prognosis of Union Minister of Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju some time back that the issue will be resolved after the Lok Sabha elections is significant. The hows and  whys ‘after the LS polls’ were not spelt out, but it is in the unspoken that so many possibilities can be read into, adding more interest in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections. As stated in an earlier commentary here, the Lok Sabha election will be a sort of a referendum on the BJP led Government at Imphal especially on its dealing with the ethnic clash and the steps it has taken up to address the grievances of the people. To the Congress, perhaps this is the best time to capitalise on the situation given that the violence has dragged on for 10 months and despite the deaths of over 200 persons, many missing, thousands displaced and houses razed and levelled to the ground, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not uttered a single word, other than the outburst when two girls were paraded naked in the initial days of the violence. Will the voters vocalise their stand against the silence of the Prime Minister is a point which the Congress will surely try to capitalise on. On the other hand the BJP too will capitalise on the suspension of the Free Movement Regime, the decision to fence the Indo-Myanmar border and the fact that the popularly elected Government has been allowed to continue despite the ten months old violence.