World's oldest Parliamentarian

Yambem Laba *

Floral Tribute to former Chief Minister, Rishang Keishing at his home. (Mantripukhri) on 23rd August 2017
Floral Tribute to former Chief Minister, Rishang Keishing at Mantripukhri on 23rd August 2017 :: Pix - Lamdamba Oinam

Rishang Keishing, who expired in Imphal on 22 August, at the age of 98, was elected to India's first Parliament in 1952. He entered politics without any political background — he was a former school headmaster. He contested the elections on a Socialist Party ticket, lured by the voice of stalwarts like Ram Manohar Lohia and others.

Some say he was baptised into the socialist fold while studying in St Paul's College, Calcutta through noted Assamese litterateur Birendrakumar Bhattacharya who was in college with him.

As an MP from the Socialist Party, Rishang was a firebrand right from the start, raising issues both regional and national. He was re-elected in 1962 and his power play on the floors of the Lok Sabha soon caught the eyes of then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who is said to have persuaded him to join the Congress. He did so in 1964.

Rishang stood firmly with the party when 13 of the 14 Congress MLAs quit. It is said that he gave the "grasshopper" legislators his blessings before they announced their formal departure, leaving him as the lone member of the opposition in the house. That was in 2000-2001. But Rishang was actually a reluctant politician.

After graduating from Calcutta University in 1946, he applied for the post of a sub-deputy collector with the then interim Manipur government, around 1947-48. When he didn't get selected, he approached then chief minister Maharajkuar Priyabrata Singh for an explanation who told him to meet Major Ranenglao "Bob" Khathing.

Bob is the other "legend" belonging to the Tangkhul community apart from Rishang and NSCN (IM) general secretary Th Muivah. Bob was then home minister of Manipur.

Rishang met Bob and told him his desires to join the government. Bob is said to have frowned at him and said, "Are you mad… if you join the bureaucracy who is going to look after your people?" That was a turning point in his life. He returned to his old school which he had helped found and started fanning his socialistic flames acquired in Calcutta.

After the end of his second tenure with the Lok Sabha in 1967, he started paving his way into state politics and he did so by forming the United Naga Integration Council. It gave a democratic call for the integration of all Naga areas of Manipur with Nagaland, a move similar to the one being made by Muivah at gun point now.

Later Rishang merged his party with the Congress under certain clauses, cleverly drafted by him, which said, "the Congress Party does not view the demands of the United Naga Integration Council as being anti-Congress or anti-national".

But that merger move, which gets continuously raked up till now, had placed Rishang higher up in the echelons of the Congress till he became its chief and got elected to the Lok Sabha on its ticket. Since then he had been the state chief minister four times. He was Rajya Sabha MP for two consecutive times, during which he was feted by the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister for being the lone surviving MP from the first Lok Sabha. He later earned the sobriquet of being the world's oldest parliamentarian.

Rishang was first elected to the Manipur Legislative Assembly in 1974 and became a Minister in 1975 when RK Dorendro was the chief minister. He became Manipur's chief minister in 1980 and continued till 1988 when he was "hijacked" from his position, despite having a majority of supporters within the Congress Legislative Party by Rajiv Gandhi who deputed his home minister Buta Singh in what is known in local Manipuri political parlance as the "midnight coup". For it was around midnight when General (Retd) KVK Krishna Rao, Governor of Manipur sworn in RK Jaichandra Singh who was then a member of the Rajya Sabha.

A deeply hurt Rishang had to silently undergo this political humiliation from the Gandhi family. He continued to play a low-key role till crawling back to power, first by becoming the deputy chief minister under Dorendro again in 1992 and when that government was dismissed on 31 December 1993 and the state placed under President's Rule, and the house kept under animated suspension.

Rishang was silently working his way through Union Home Minister SB Chavan and Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao to lift the President's Rule and to become chief minister. It finally bore fruit in November 1994 and then Governor Lt General (Rtd) VK Nayar had to resign from his post in deference to the Centre's wish to have the date of trial of strength on the floors of the Assembly postponed in favour of Rishang. In 1995, within two months, the state went to the polls and the Congress swept the elections. Rishang became chief minister for the fourth time.

What made Rishang stand out from other politicians were his patience and perseverance and the sense of keeping calm in the worst situations.

In 1984 Muivah's cadres ambushed Rishang's convoy on the way back from his Phungyar constituency in Ukhrul. Four of his escorts were killed and seven injured. Later I had the audacity to ask him if he had arranged that ambush to prop up his popularity as NSCN (IM) cadres were ever known to have missed a target earlier. A normal politician would have flared up but the old man just kept his cool and simply said "No', adding "Superintendent of Police, Romen Singh saved my life by escorting me."

Later, when his then political heir Morung Makunga fired a pistol in his drawing room and broke the glass topping of the side table by stamping on it, an unperturbed Rishang just gazed at Morung and simply said, "Morung are you mad?" Morung later told me that it was next to impossible to make Rishang angry.

The President, Prime Minister and the Odisha Governor, SC Jamir joined leaders across the state to mourn Rishang's demise. But there was an ominous silence on the part of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

Rishang's body lay in state for a day at his Mantripukhri residence and was to be taken to his ancestral village in Bungpa Khullen in the now Kamjong district. But after a funeral service at the Manipur Baptist Church and paying of respects at the Congress Bhawan and when the cortege was about to be taken, word came in that the NSCN (IM) will not allow Rishang's body to be interned at his village, an area where the writ of the rebel group runs under a truce with the Centre.

So the body was laid to rest at his Mantripukhri home. Muivah seems to have taken revenge on a dead Rishang, a man he could not kill while alive. That was the price Rishang had to pay for keeping Manipur as one unit where all the communities could live in peace and harmony together.

(Courtesy : The Statesman)

* Yambem Laba wrote this article for 'The Statesman' which was published at The Sangai Express
The writer is the Imphal-based special representative of The Statesman
This article was posted on September 11, 2017.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Product @Langbal Keithel #1:: Gallery
  • Death Anniv- Bhagyachandra #3 :: Gallery
  • Written Exam for CDPO postphoned
  • Lamyanba Hijam Irabot :: Read all him..
  • Manipur Assembly Elections 2017 #1
  • Ekai Thabi- Aquatic vegetable cash crop
  • Message to the Meiteis living abroad
  • A Cloud of Dust :: Poem
  • Jobs in IT Cell at C-DAC Silchar
  • Making change to education scenario
  • 107 illegal migrants pushed back
  • Deficit monsoon rains in most of NE
  • Nangna Helli Nungshiba #1 :eRang
  • AIM, Khabam Vs NEROCA FC :: Gallery
  • Yumnam Yaima : Manipuri Sahitya Parishad
  • Langol Watch Tower #5 :: 360 ° View
  • FIR against fmr CM Ibobi in MDS scam
  • Protest demanding justice for Pravish
  • Killing Of Tripura Journalist
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Idiotic stand of making Hindi compulsory
  • September and Hijam Irabot
  • Death Anniv- Bhagyachandra #2 :: Gallery
  • National Repentance Day :: Gallery
  • Chasing Tidal Waves by Lo! Peninsula
  • Volleyball tournament at Chingai, Ukhrul
  • Condemns murder of Shantanu Bhowmik
  • Condemns scribe's murder in Tripura
  • Deep grief over another assassination
  • Suspicious death of missing youth in Noida
  • Protest outside UP Bhawan in Delhi
  • Bigger threat from Bangla immigrants
  • Of war, wine and women
  • A trip to Moreh #1 :: Gallery
  • Death Anniv- Bhagyachandra #1 :: Gallery
  • Breach of Privilege & Contempt of the House
  • Career option in History
  • Cry of a Dying River - 1 :: Poem
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • Condemn provocation against Pangal
  • Meetei Demand Of Scheduled Tribe @ Delhi
  • Resolutions adopted by NPF Central HQs
  • TSA-GHQ calls off agitation
  • Diverting filled cylinders from hills
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #6 : Ooba
  • History of Printing in Manipur
  • Hydro Electric Power: A must for Manipur #1
  • Why Total Knee Replacement is necessary
  • Self-styled godmen and mental darkness
  • The Dawn of Knowledge :: Poem
  • Consideration for Govt on UTLA camp attack
  • Bloody Phanek premiere in South Korea
  • Memo to Satywati College against Hindi
  • NE militant in Myanmar may face problem
  • Putting the limelight on O Ibobi
  • Bamboo - our green treasure
  • Jadonang: Indomitable faith of martyrdom
  • 12th Manipur State League #3:: Gallery
  • Cyberbullying
  • British rule in India: blessing or curse?
  • Candle light for Pravish Chanam at Delhi
  • Concern over Cambodia media crackdown
  • Present crisis a blessing for NPF: MLA
  • Medical Camp at Tokpaching, Chandel
  • High promises, high expectations : BJP Govt
  • Traffic regulation still yet be improved
  • Traditional Ritual @Khurkhul #4 :: Gallery
  • Athokpam Tomchou :: Sahityabhusan
  • Kanglasha & Kangla Fort :: 360 ° View
  • Mapithel Dam: Tumukhong village's sorrow
  • Earthen Pots of Thongjao :: Poem
  • Protest Rally at Uchiwa on Pravish's death
  • Three former insurgents killed in Manipur
  • Frisking exercise intensifies along borders
  • Manipur await to deport Rohingya prisoner
  • Culturals @ Pineapple Fest #2 :: Gallery
  • Boisang, Yaronsho, Thangmeiso :: eMing
  • MSL: NISA Vs FC Zalen :: Gallery
  • Fund the Athlete: Support Sumanta Naorem
  • Carbon Sequestration Vs Agroforestry tree
  • PHYNYX changes name & going global
  • NEFIS reaches HM on Pravish death
  • Expecting the expectation
  • Priyogopal : Senior Film Artist :: eRang
  • Ningtham Charei fashion catwalk :: Gallery
  • My Japanlan memoir after 4 score yrs- D
  • Candle light: Justice for Pravish Chanam
  • Science as a Christian vocation
  • Yesterday Today and Tomorrow :: Poem
  • Early Childhood Education Impact Study
  • Condemn the attitude of Noida Police
  • Protest at Noida SSP's office
  • A Child Cannot Decide Its Parent
  • Notification from COHSEM for Class XI
  • Threat to ban movement of non-local
  • Re-defining Mr. Clean perspectives
  • Hathei Phanit @Sirarakhong :: Gallery
  • Education in Manipur- reform & vision
  • Career option in Political Science
  • A Robe of Love :: Poem
  • Memo to CM regarding dead in Noida
  • Meghalaya edition of NH7 Weekender
  • Away from Imphal centric: Govt-Hills Bhai!
  • Panchayat election matters...
  • Reception for CM at CCPur :: Gallery
  • 239th Heikru Hidongba #2 :: Gallery
  • Buddha Said: The More The Govt... #2
  • R & R anomaly in Mapithel dam
  • Letting go :: Poem
  • Bedtime beauty hacks to look young
  • Warepnaba Meefam Saruk Yabiyu
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Civil Sectt crawling at snail pace
  • Perplexity trends
  • Heitha Leithaba @Kekrupat #2:: Gallery
  • Ningtham Charei :: Fashion Show
  • ISKCON Temple, Imphal #2 :: 360 ° View
  • Remote Villages conditions remain same
  • General Meeting & Social Gathering of EMA
  • Leadership management
  • Karo Sambhav School Program at Tripura
  • Blood Donation Camp at RIMS
  • Another spell of cooking gas shortage
  • Parking paralysis
  • Manipur Univ of Culture #3 :: Gallery
  • Sub Junior Boys Basketball #2 :: Gallery
  • Binalakshmi Nepram: NE Excellence Award
  • Manipuri in Proto-Sino-Tibetan Family
  • Lamka: Urban character with rural admin
  • MUTA Colloquium : 3 decades of teaching
  • IIHEd Seminar : The Rohingya Conundrum
  • Inter Village Volley Ball at Chandel
  • Trafficking story from CCpur
  • Local body election matters
  • Pottery Crafts of Manipur #1 :: Gallery
  • Techniche, IIT Guwahati :: Gallery
  • Anger begets hope & constructive action
  • World's oldest Parliamentarian
  • Convocation of Assam Don Bosco Univ.
  • Times I Live In :: Poem
  • Sadar Hills District Demand: News Timeline
  • Date with Sep 11 : Setting new benchmarks
  • Angaoba Film Scenes #2 :: eRang
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • My Japanlan memoir after 4 score years- C
  • Flood & Ithai Barrage: A brief reflection
  • Indigenous people must be consulted...
  • When a Star Finally Dies :: Poem
  • Job openings at The Rice Company
  • Lesson need to learn from Gouri Lankesh
  • Sumi Hoho calls on Nagaland CM
  • #NeverStop Guwahati: fitness enthusiasts
  • Protests against Myanmar govt
  • Culturals @ Pineapple Fest #1 :: Gallery
  • 12th Manipur State League #1:: Gallery
  • Tete a tete with the Education Minister
  • Freak and frank job interview
  • Buddha Said: The More The Govt... #1
  • Dichtung und Wahrheit :: Poem
  • Protest: Myanmar for persecuting Rohingya
  • Subroto Football under 14 yrs at Delhi
  • Performance anxiety: and its election again
  • Heitha Leithaba @Kekrupat #1:: Gallery
  • Heikru Hidongba Definition: Bijoy Govinda
  • Shri Shri Govindaji Temple #2 :: 360 ° View
  • Era gone with Rishang Keishing demise
  • International Literacy Day, 2017
  • De-notify Disturbed Area tag & repeal AFSPA
  • Waiting for a Good Morrow:: Poem
  • Annual Fresher's Meet, MSAD
  • Clogged waterways: Plastics, plastics...
  • Life is to be lived, not to merely survive
  • State level Teacher's Day :: Gallery
  • MU Inter-College Basketball :: Gallery
  • Half Step Rock signs up PHYNYX, now 'LEN'
  • RIST Talk 31 : metal cholate hydrogels
  • Day 3 at Techniche IIT Guwahati
  • Response to "need male empowerment"
  • Condemns murder of Gauri Lankesh
  • Condemns murder of Bengaluru journalist
  • NPF on impersonation of its President
  • Pre-recruitment Training for Chandel Youth
  • Where are the Ojas in teachers ?
  • Another stunt, but things remain the same
  • Bhoot Ki Thoujal :: Funga Wari
  • 52nd Hunger Marchers' Day #3 :: Gallery
  • Global development agenda & local realities
  • Sita :: Poem
  • Career in Audio/Sound Engineering
  • Education for conflict
  • Bikram's Blog :: 10 Year on Web
  • 7th Pay & the fiscal reality of the State
  • Of Patriot and patriotism
  • 2nd Conclave of NEDA
  • Kang Tournament #2 :: Gallery
  • NE Fashion Week #2 :: Gallery
  • Beauvoir's Second Sex & Maam's teaching
  • Face to Face with Rishang Keishing
  • ...real fact nobody wants to tell naked truth
  • to whom it may concern :: Poem
  • Importance of yoga
  • 'Court Arrest Prog' on Teachers' Day
  • Recruitment drive at Globizs, Imphal
  • JCILPS back after a brief lull
  • Culture of respect
  • 239th Heikru Hidongba #1 :: Gallery
  • Oinam Doren wins award in Italy (Lessinia)
  • For Chester : Tribute Concert :: Gallery
  • Id-ul-Zuha @ Hatta, Minuthong :: Gallery
  • Tribute to Rishang Keishing #3 :: Gallery
  • Heikru Hidongba
  • Result: 3rd Imphal National Photo contest
  • Haipou Jadonang day :: Gallery
  • Sub-Junior Football for NE :: Gallery
  • Xth Pineapple Fest @CCpur :: Gallery
  • L Devendro : O Bembem :: Arjuna Awards
  • Ige KNliye kabita Ama :: Seireng
  • Karong Children home wash away:: Gallery
  • State bids adieu to Rishang :: Gallery
  • Rishang Keishing : A profile
  • Tribute to Rishang Keishing #2 :: Gallery
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • Nungbi Khullen, Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Landscape of Ukhrul District #2:: Gallery
  • Landscape of Manipur #7: Wallpaper
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #3 :: Gallery