Sort of a referendum on the Govt Opting for the NOTA button

Is Manipur placed to go to polls for the two phased Lok Sabha elections on April 19 and April 26 ? The answer would largely depend on the different interpretations given to the present reality, but the fact is even after more than 11 months of the clash there is no indication that Manipur has taken her first step towards normalcy. The guns have gone silent, at least for the time being, but to say that this is a reflection of normalcy returning would be missing the trees for the woods. The fact of the matter is, Manipur has been divided into two zones, marked by what the Assam Rifles or the Central armed forces have dubbed as ‘Buffer Zones.’ ‘No entry’ signs have come up to mark the zones and the Imphal-Dimapur stretch of the National Highway continues to be off limits for the Meiteis. Even after more than 11 months of the clash erupting in all its ugliness on May 3, 2023, Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Moreh continue to be off limits for the Meitei civilians, while no Kuki-Zo folk would dare to venture into Imphal or Bishnupur, Thoubal or Kakching or any place where the Meiteis are the predominant community. Check the passenger list on any of the bus or taxi taking the Imphal to Dimapur route and the truth should be obvious to everyone. The silence of the gun should not and cannot be equated with normalcy and this is best exemplified by the fact that thousands continue to survive in relief centres set up across the length and breadth of the State. It is against this reality that a number of womenfolk coming under the banner of Meira Paibis have  announced their decision to stay away from the coming Lok Sabha polls. The Manipur Keithel Phambi Apunba Lup has also gone ahead to announce that they would not take part in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Same is the case with a number of other womenfolks who have come out on the streets to announce that they would not vote for any candidate or political party but instead opt for the NOTA button. Strong stand this is, for the very decision to punch the NOTA button on the Electronic Voting Machine is  a clear statement that they no longer trust the different political parties which have fielded their respective candidates. In asserting that they no longer trust the political parties, the womenfolk are also sending out the message that the Government of the day has failed Manipur and her people miserably. Just how many votes would NOTA poll is something that will be known only after the votes have been cast, but the point that has been delivered should not be missed. The decision to stay away from the polls as well as the stand to opt for the NOTA button can be better understood in the context of the deafening silence that the Prime Minister has been maintaining though Manipur has been on the boil for over 11 months now.
The boycott call may or may not have much of an impact on the election, but the core meaning in the very decision to stay away from the election should not be missed. More interesting is the stand to go in for the NOTA choice. As stated, it may or may not have much of an impact on the coming polls but it should be clear that the disillusionment of the people with everything that the understanding of politics comes along with is high, very high. However this does not answer the question of whether this is the correct approach or not. Even if more than 60 percent of the voters push the NOTA button, the one who gets more vote out of the 40 percent who voted will be declared elected and he will represent the people in the highest decision making body of the country. Or even if a large number of people stay away from the polls, it would not have any impact on the outcome of the election for whoever gets more vote will be declared elected. Election is primarily the time for the voters to show which of the political parties or the candidates have earned their confidence and trust. Which candidate and party best understands the sentiments of the people and will speak the language of the people is the question that should drive the zeal of the people’s participation in the election process. The stand of the people will be reflected in the outcome of the polls and as stated in an earlier commentary here, the coming Lok Sabha elections can be and should be seen as some sort of a referendum on how the BJP led Government, both at Delhi and Imphal, has addressed the crisis besieging Manipur for over 11 months now.