BJP lost the golden opportunity

AD Singh *

Two issues which are so close to the heart of Manipuris particularly the Meiteis are the territorial Integrity and the national highway no. 37, the Imphal Jiribam road. The emotive attachment of the Meiteis to the land is visibly palpable in the folk songs and folklore of the people from the yore. They firmly believe that the hill people particularly the Tangkhuls who now call themselves Naga, are siblings of the same parents who had migrated to different places of the globe now called Manipur. Their fore fathers had fought a number of wars with the neighbouring countries to safeguard the boundaries of the country.

In recent past, the integrity of Manipur now a state of India is being threatened by the very people whom they consider their own. The economic blockade enforced by a organisation called United Naga Council (UNC) could not have come at a worst time, when the people are jittery about best kept secrets of the purported Framework Agreement between the government of India and the insurgent organisation the NSCN (IM).

The blockade which been declared illegal and unconstitutional by highest court of law of the country, has brought immense misery and hardship to the people. The state unit of the BJP had an unique opportunity to play a pro-active role to end the blockade and crowned itself with glory, by presenting the issue in its true perspectives and effectively to the central government.

It is well known that the blockade is an extreme provocation to the people particularly to the Manipur Government to react in such a way which can be used to advance its propaganda of discrimination against the Nagas. The Chief Minister and the government showed extreme tolerance and did not react for a long time and instead allowed the public to question audacity of UNC to detect terms to the government.

The prime contention of organisation had been it was neither consulted nor sought its approval before creating a new district of Sadar Hills. The UNC leaders seem to forget that true representative of the people are the members of State Assembly or the Parliament who had been democratically elected by them.

How can any other person be the representative of the people as a whole? Even in a local club leaders are elected. The UNC also must have followed the same unless it is an autocratic organisation and the leaders are selected by another higher authority.

If that is true how it can be a true representative of the people which they claim to represent. Under no circumstance the economic blockade for so many weeks can be justified whatever may the grievances. If the blockade is done in Kashmir by the separatists will the central government remain a silent spectator?

It is reported that the local leaders of the BJP had visited Delhi many times and had met the Home Minister and the Prime Minister. Obviously they had failed to impress upon their bosses. A chit chat over a cup of tea cannot bring result while the other party is bending backward to appease another organisation (NSCN- IM).

Hard facts in well articulated manner presented lucidly and to the point, and in a language which they understand could have turned the tide in their favour. After all, an election is in hand. BJP is eager to establish a government of its own in the state. Any political strategist should have used this fact to its advantage.

Imagine the windfall of votes for the BJP if the central government forced the NSCN (IM) to withdraw the blockade which is now being turned into an embargo. People would have loved it and thankful to the PM. Now the state BJP has lost that precious opportunity to turn the blockade to votes.

A dozen Modis shall not be able to mend the hurt in the psyche of the people. Leaders like Prakash Javadkar who thoughtlessly announced in his last visit in Imphal that the creation of districts shall cause burning of Manipur, has only encouraged the agitationists and embolden them to indulge in violence causing death and injuries of policemen. In Kashmir these late policemen would have been declared martyrs and honoured.

Delhi did not utter even a word of condemnation for they knew who did it. Such indifferent attitude and irresponsible statements of the central leaders will be fully exploited by the other political parties to the hilt to turn the voters against the BJP.

The other issue which is of great concern to the people, is the condition of the national highway 37, the Imphal Jiri road which is made unusable by years of callous attitude and nonprofessional management by the Border Road Organisation earlier by the BRTF, on one excuse or the other. Prime Minister Modi failed to convert his promise to restore the road to serviceable condition leave alone a highway of international standard.

Imagine the plight of the people in the present situation had it not been for the effort of the truck owner organisations to repair the road near the Maku Bridge. The state should have been completely cut off to the glee of UNC but cause starvation of the people. It is reported that the BRO is dilly dallying on the maintenance of the highway as it believes that a segment of the highway shall be submerged under water from Tipaimukh Dam which may or may not be materialised.

Even if the dam is constructed it will take ten years to complete it. That being the uncertainty, is it the concern of the BRO which is only a executing agency and not a policy making authority? Shall the state be deprived of alternative life line of the state till that time? The local leaders of the BJP who knows the sentiment and sensitivity of the people should have impressed upon the concerned central ministers the urgent necessity to make the highway motorable throughout the year, and earn the appreciation of the people.

On both the counts the state BJP has failed to take any pro-active role taking advantage of the central government led by their party. The last few months had been wasted on heaving charges of corruption without any evidence on the Chief Minister and the government. People are not interested on the matter which are already known but not proved. The people are looking up to the BJP leaders to prove themselves capable of forming an alternative government.

They will like to know how the BJP is going to solve the vexed problems of the state, primarily caused by the demand of the Nagas to dissociate from the people of Manipur and if possible to change the map of Manipur. This is important for the people because the BJP led central government is bending backward under the weight of Muivah factor. At the moment it appears that the local leaders have not been able to impress upon the central leaders the price it is going to pay in the hustling for any wrong move.

The central leaders need to realise that there will be only four or five MLAs who owe allegiance to Mr Muivah, in a house of sixty. As is well known, in democracy the party with a majority of members forms the government. People are looking up to some one or a party which have the best intention and conviction to safeguard the boundary of Manipur. BJP is already a suspect.

So, unless a course correction is done by the central leaders of BJP, on the initiative of the local leaders the election is as good as lost, because opportunity comes seldom. Those who grab it, become achiever; those who fail to capitalise on an opportunity and a situation are the losers. If the central government is mulling on proclaiming PR under pretext of bad law and order, it will be as good as the last nail on its coffin. Remember the last NDA government led by BJP at the centre when Manipur was literally burnt in 2001 July.

For the love of BJP, I, earnestly hope that I am proved wrong. But sadly my leaders are not seeing the writings on the wall.

* AD Singhwrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on December 25, 2016.

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