Clock ticking towards voting day Central point is Manipur

To many, the coming Lok Sabha election will be a sort of a referendum to the manner in which the BJP led Government, both at Imphal and New Delhi, has dealt with the ongoing ethnic clash, which is set to complete a full 11 months. This is particularly true for the Inner Parliamentary Constituency and this is where it has become more and more interesting to watch the big two-the BJP and the Congress-slugging it out against each other. To the BJP baiters and to the Congress in particular, the silence of the Prime Minister which has been equated with indifference, is one primary point to be picked and highlighted but how this translates into votes is something that remains to be seen. Many may also see the indifference of the Prime Minister and by extension the Centre, as  one of the biggest factors for the clash to go on for so long and while such an observation may hold true for the Inner Parliamentary seat, the Outer seat offers an interesting point in so far as the position of the BJP is concerned. The saffron party has already announced that it would not be fielding a candidate this time and has proclaimed that it would support the NPF candidate, which is an alliance of the NDA at the Centre. While the stand of the BJP may be understood according to the different interpretation that one may give, what is significant is the stand of the Kuki-Zo MLAs that they would back the NPF candidate. In one stroke the NPF candidate has received the blessings of the BJP as well as the Kuki-Zo MLAs and this is perhaps where the real test of the voters in the eight Assembly Constituencies, who cannot contest the polls but can vote, will lie. Will the voters of these 8 Assembly segments go according to the stand of the BJP as a political party to back the NPF candidate or will they prefer not to sup with the candidate who has seemingly received the backing of the Kuki-Zo MLAs ? Only time will tell, but this is what has added more interests to the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Uncertain times for the candidates but surely interesting for the voters.  And perhaps this is where the voters should make the interesting times more meaningful by raising certain questions within themselves before casting their vote. It should go beyond the question of deciding who is sent to the Lok Sabha for the next five years but should be about delivering an important political point on where people stand on the idea of Manipur and what it stands for, especially in the face of the ongoing clash, which has raised a challenge to the existence of Manipur as a geo-political reality.
Should the coming Lok Sabha election be more about choosing the candidate based on his personal attributes, such as his oratorial skills, his stand on the question of Manipur, his understanding of the geo-political reality, his integrity, ability to take Manipur specific issues to Parliament and beyond or should it be more about the political party to which he belongs ? No easy answer here, but remember central to the choice one makes is Manipur. This is a point which can be overlooked only at the peril of the place and the people and the present is the best time to reflect on this. Just two MPs in the Lok Sabha is an argument that stands to an extent, but the choice that one makes should go beyond this for the man being sent to the Lok Sabha should also be more about how Manipur is presented not only inside the Parliament but also outside, in fact to the whole world. May 3, 2023 to April 2, 2024 is the right time, in fact the best opportunity, for the people to decide who can go all the way to Delhi on their behalf and tell the story of the place and her people to India and the world. The different candidates, the different political parties particularly the BJP and the Congress must be primed about what they would sell to the voters to convince them and the questions raised here should be the barometer for the people to make their choice. For too long, the burden of telling the story of the place and her people has been falling on the shoulder of people other than the elected representatives and it is time to entrust this responsibility to the man who is elected to go to the highest law making body of the country. The responsibility of the people is huge and this is precisely the reason why the significance of the coming election should not be lost on anyone.