The ‘15 days’ conundrum Visit on the 15th of April

Will be back after 15 days actually meant will return on the 15th and come he did on April 15. This is the one line punch that has been doing the round on the social media, while referring to the one day or two hours visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The one line punch can be understood when viewed against the nearly 12 months old conflict between the Meiteis and Kukis and the lack of any positive action initiated by New Delhi, other than the promise to suspend the Free Movement Regime and fence the Indo-Myanmar border. The continued silence of the Prime Minister has only added that needed punch to the one line statement, a promise made when Amit Shah visited Manipur at the height of the conflict at the fag end of May last year. The Union Home Minister was here primarily to campaign for the saffron party and the ongoing clash was not central to his visit but this did not stop the man from New Delhi to assure the gathering at Hapta Kangjeibung that the integrity of Manipur would not be compromised under any circumstances. Not entirely new, for this is the line that New Delhi has been maintaining for quite some time, especially during any  election campaign, but this would have surely gone down well with the gathering at Hapta Kangjeibung as well as with Chief Minister N Biren and his men. However lest it be forgotten, let it be very clear that Manipur is not a gift of New Delhi nor any other entity and had existed as a distinct geo-political reality even before the birth of the Indian Union. This is a point which should not be lost on anyone, but it is nonetheless heartening to see that in one statement the Union Home Minister has blunted the demand for a Separate Administration, which is very current. In as much as the Union Home Minister assured the sanctity of Manipur, what he failed or missed out in his address would not have missed the attention of the people. Not a word was said about the demand for a National Register of Citizens much less anything about the Suspension of Operation pact signed with the Kuki armed groups and the popular demand that the Meiteis be included in the Scheduled Tribe category of the Constitution of India. To be sure these are sensitive issues and it may not have been politically prudent to touch on these topics on eve of the Parliamentary elections, but the silence on these points must have been heard loud and clear by all those who took more than a cursory interests in the one day visit of the Union Home Minister.
How much impact will the visit of the BJP leader from New Delhi have on the voters is the question that must be occupying the minds of the keen political watchers and the numerous poll pundits who emerge and amazingly make their presence felt every-time election fever grips the people. No clear cut answer, but as expected the Union Home Minister left no stone unturned to go on the offensive against the Congress but then again how much this will impact on the voters is something only time will tell. What however must not be forgotten is the fact that the Manipur of today and the Manipur that was before May 3, 2023 are two entirely different things. In as much as a huge crowd thronged Mapal Kangjeibung to attend the public meeting and listen to Amit Shah, there were also quite a large number of people who came out on the roads and tried to stop others from going to the meeting venue. This was particularly true at Khurai side, with the video clip of some volunteers stopping others from heading towards the meeting venue going viral on the social media. A reflection of a deeply polarised people or a people demonstrating their democratic rights to air their stand ? The answer could be either, but that such a question has been raised should say something very significant on the outlook and mentality of the people. One can expect the Congress and INDIA Bloc to come out and give some hard hitting replies to the points raised by Amit Shah and to be sure in Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, the Congress has a candidate who knows how to come out with the right choice of words to blunt whatever charges the BJP may have made against the Congress. This is what has made the run up to the Lok Sabha elections here in the Inner seat all that more interesting and one can expect to see some more.