TODAY -

The Merger Of Manipur Into India And The Manipur State Congress
- Part 1 -

Dr. N. Joykumar Singh *



The merger of Manipur into India was a great significant event in the history of Manipur and at the same time the birth of Manipur State congress was also a great political development in the political development of this state. So, the history of the merger agreement and the Manipur State Congress may be treated as the two faces of the same coin because when the matter of the merger is to be discussed the role of the Manipur State Congress cannot be set aside.

In this respect we cannot just ignore the predominant political role played by the Manipur State Congress between the year 1946-49, and it is also a fact that they played a very important motivating role for the merger of Manipur into India. Indeed, two compelling phenomenon were responsible for the integration of Manipur into India, i.e. internal and external factors.

The internal factor means the internal political condition which was prevailing in the state and the external factor means the pressure from the leaders of the MCC and government of India. The objective of this paper is to make a humble attempt to highlight the role played by the Manipur State Congress at the time of the process of integration. In this connection it can be suggested that the process of integration is directly interlinked with the history of the changing political development of Manipur right from the birth of the Nikhil Manipuri Mahasabha.

Indeed, the establishment of this political organization may be suggested as a gestation period for the emergence of the idea of merger of Manipur into the political boundary of the Indian Union. If we closely observed the composition and the political affiliation of the members of the Mahasava it can be stressed that the political party was constituted by the members who have two different objective.

One group was in favour of the integration and another was in favour of Manipur nationalism. Their difference was clearly demonstrated by their later political action. However, their political difference was not visible at the early stage because it was cover by the unanimous opinions of anti-imperialism and anti-feudal issues. Then in the year 1939 the demarcating line of their differences, although it was not very clear, came to visible point. In this year, the issue of Nupi Lan (women agitation) the party was split into two.

Hijam Irabot Singh, the president of the Mahasava and some other members felt that this movement was basically aimed for the upliftment of the economic position of the state and so they fixed their target against the exploiters who were given protection by the colonial rulers and feudal lord the mahasava of Manipur. He was of the opinion that it was not agitation of the women but a movement of the people. (Irabot's Address on 7th January 1940 at police Line).

On the basis of this view his group wanted to extended the full co-operation of Mahasava to the women. But the other remaining members, without giving any reasonable agreement, did not shared his view. Such type of political stand of the majority members of the Mahasava may be observed as contradiction or ambiguous to their anti-feudal and anti-colonial stand.

In the meantime the Second worlds war broked out and this war have brought a complete change in the political landscape of Manipur. Just after the end of the war everybody began to feel that the impending independence from the colonial rule was not only a matter of time. Such type of political development was also closely monitored by the likeminded people who seem to be a believer in the political culture of the Indian National Congress.

Their inner political motive was elearly revealed by their later political action. But outwardly they strongly asserted the immediate need to establish in common platform of all the parties so that it would be able to represent the general feeling of the masses. Keeping this view in their mind a preliminary meeting was held on 18th September 1946 at the Aryan Theater Hall in which all members shared their view.

Accordingly a ruling was convened at the initiative of some people like R.K. Maipaksana, Sagolsem Indramani, Nongmaithem Sudhir, Leitam Yaima, A. Lalmani, R.K. Priyogopalsana etc. (R.K. Maipaksana was the important of the writers). This conference was a very significant in the political history of Manipur because it laid the basic foundation for the loss of the political identity of Manipur.

The organisers invited three representatives from each political party and it was held on the 4th October 1946 at Aryan Theatre Hall. But the most surprising and dramatic episode of the conference was the objection raised by some delegates at the presence of Hijam Irabot Singh. They alleged that he could not be a delegate as he was already in touch with communist party when he was in exile.

It also said that all the members of the Mahasava also joined hands with this objection and the organisers also are appeared to be in favour of the objection. Such type of political attitude of the organisors had clearly demonstrated their real political motive and at the same time it may also be deduce that their action was serious contradiction to their plan of forming a common political platform which was supposed to be constituted by the representatives of various political organisation.

From their policy now it was quite clear that the real intention of the organisors was to establish a political party which could represent their political outlook. In a way their political ideology was very much different from the idea of true Manipur nationalism of Late Hijam Irabot Singh. Thus due to the strong opposition from other delegates Irabot was forced to permanently from the ruling and the unanimously resolved to form a new Party called Manipur State Congress.

The formation of this party was indeed a great success of silent whispering campaign which was initiated from the very inception of Mahasava by the likeminded person who observes to make a permanent political platform through which their political idea could be spread among the people of the State. In short it can be observed that the establishment of this party paved a way, for the integration of Manipur into India.

Just after the establishment of this party all the members of the Mahasava who were once against the political principle of Irabot also joined into congress party Shri R.K Bhubonsana was elected as the first President of the Manipur State Congress, Shri Yumnam Khoimacha Singh and Shri Budhachandra Roy was made as the Secretary & Office Secretary of the Party respectively.

Then they also began to launch their political movement with some basic demands like the establishment of responsible Government in Manipur etc. Thus, the Manipur State Congress began to emerge as a very important political party in Manipur.

However, the election result of 1948 gave serious setback to the policy and programmes of the Manipur State Congress. Before this election they strongly believed that they were the spokesman of the people of Manipur. Therefore they felt that they would be able to get a strong support from the people. In the election result of fifty-three seats the Manipur State Congress secured only thirteen seats and their member was increased to fourteen after the defection of Shri Sinam Bijoy Singh from Jiribam Assembly Constituency.

First he was elected as a candidate of Manipur Krishak Sabha. From the election result it was quite clear that the Manipur State Congress was not the most popular party in Manipur. It is observed that the failure of the Manipur State Congress to form Government in 1948 had probably disappointed not only the State Congress but also the Indian National Congress and greatly effected its integration. (A history of the Manipur Congress party in Manipur an unpublished work).

It further observed that had the Congress party formed the government the process of the merger of Manipur within Indian Union might have been accomplished the same year. Whatever opinion it may be but is a fact that after this result the leaders of the Manipur State Congress began to understand their position among the people and so they immediately began to adopt certain political step for the fulfillment of their objective. As a first step they tried to establish kind of relationship and understanding with the All India Congress Committee.


(This write up is re-produced with prior permission from the publishing authority of the Book called Annexation of Manipur - 1949)

To be continued....


* Dr. N. Joykumar Singh (of Manipur University) wrote this article which was later published at Imphal Times
This article was posted on 17 August, 2018 .


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