People have spoken, Manipur has voted Two phased polls

Manipur has voted and while it is still not very clear whether repoll will be held in any of the polling stations where trouble erupted in Ukhrul district and at Karong AC in Senapati district during the second phase of the election on April 26, it is now clear that if Angomcha Bimol Akoijam was the candi-date to watch out in the Inner Parliamentary Constituency, in the Outer that man was Alfred Kangam Arthur, again of the Congress. Early days yet and while the line ‘man to watch out for’ need not necessarily translate into votes, it is clear that the Congress is back in the reckoning of the people after a hiatus. Remains to be seen how the oldest political party in the country is able to maintain the tempo here and take it the full stretch when Manipur goes for her Assembly elections in the early part of 2027.  The Parliamentary elections serving the interest of a political party, the Congress in this case, and it would be interesting to see how the saffron party is able to blunt the fresh energy that seems to have been injected into the Congress, which is the only Opposition party in the House of 60 with just five MLAs. As noted earlier here, early days yet, but it is good for democracy when the Opposition gets stronger and this is what many may read into the Congress of today, unlike 2019 when it lost the Inner and the Outer seats to the BJP and the NPF respectively. Again it should be acknowledged that it is the candidates who seem to have injected fresh blood in the Congress and far from the candidates riding on the shoulder of the party, it was the party riding on the wave generated by its candidates. In the Inner the Congress rode on the shoulder of its candidate, Bimol Akoijam who managed to fire the imagination of quite a number of voters, especially amongst the youth, while in the Outer its candidate Alfred Kangam Arthur presented a fresh face, a face that the voters could identify with. Whatever the outcome of the elections, the Congress is well placed to take off from here and work to get back into the consciousness of the people. How it goes about doing that remains to be seen, but it needs to study how two individuals have managed to create a new image of the party. It is this which the Congress should study and see how to take things from there. For starters the Congress may study how it can become a more effective Opposition party, especially on the floor of the Assembly, despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered. 
The ongoing ethnic clash which has claimed over 200 lives, rendered thousands homeless with over 60,000 still surviving in the relief camps set up all over the State, many still missing and hundreds of houses being pulled down and levelled to the ground, was central to the election in the Inner seat. This reality too would have been central in places like Kangpokpi and Churachandpur, but in the Naga dominated districts such as Ukhrul, Senapati and Tamenglong, there are other issues which could have held sway. The people in the Outer have already tried and tested two MPs from the NPF and one wonders how much of an impact the NPF MPs had on the ongoing political dialogue between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India. This point is being brought up here, given that the NPF is a Naga centric political party and is widely believed to be keenly interested in the ongoing political dialogue. This issue no doubt could have been central in the Naga dominated districts and how the Congress candidate managed to sell his idea on the political dialogue would go an appreciable distance to influence the voters. To repeat a point already stressed here earlier, the 2024 Parliamentary election is perhaps the first such election to have evoked so much interest amongst the people. The reason is not far to seek and as stated many times earlier, the outcome of the election will to a certain extent reflect the people’s stand on how the BJP led Government at Imphal has dealt with the ongoing state of unrest and herein lies the biggest stake of the saffron party. The people have spoken, now let the EVMs do the talking, a talk which will come out on June 4.