TODAY -

Issues in state right recipe for bitter electioneering
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: September 07, 2021 -



EVEN if the Covid-19 pandemic remains in the state in the run-up to or at the time of conducting the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly election, there is no way that the political parties will exercise restraint.

That political parties and individual candidates do not accord much importance to public safety or diligently follow the guidelines formulated by experts to contain the infectious disease had been clearly demonstrated during the by-elections held in four assembly segments in the state as well as in assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry in the first quarter this year.

Though there was no immediate spike in the number of Covid-19 cases then, surveys conducted by independent agencies concluded campaign activities related to the elections as one of the main reasons for India registering world-record breaking daily cases coupled with casualties in multiple thousands for a couple of months after onset of the second wave, which consequently reached the state as well.

The situation was so grave that the government of Manipur had to defer the pending elections to the Autonomous District Councils and triggered outrage among the tribal bodies which accused the government of being indifferent to the interest of people residing in the hill areas.

The voices of dissent over postponement of the ADC polls may have waned subsequent to appointment of caretaker chairmen but the upcoming assembly elections are neither likely to be deferred nor will the campaigning be idyllic considering the varied issues, including long pending sensitive ones as well as recent controversial development in the state.

It is obvious that in the valley areas the election will be dominated by the candidates championing rights of the farmers, justifying demand for granting Scheduled Tribe status to the majority community and sympathising victims of the pandemic to name a few.

Whereas in the hills it is certain that both the opposition and alliance partners of the present establishment would be feasting on non-tabling of the proposed ADC Bill and the most recent case of the Assembly Secretariat notifying induction of nine MLAs elected from the valley assembly segments to the Hill Areas Committee.

On its part, the main opposition party - Congress has made a strategic move as its MLAs had withdrawn from being members of the HAC and the government kept the HAC-induction notice in abeyance in an apparent bid to mollify the agitated tribal communities, with both the moves aimed at the upcoming elections.

Nevertheless, all these issues have all the ingredients to make the upcoming elections a bitter physical and sentimental contest. With parties and candidates certain to galvanise all available resources, it could be safely predicted that public safety vis-a-vis Covid-19 pandemic will be secondary as the politicians indulge in one-upmanship to secure their political future.

At-least during the campaigning period, it could be guaranteed that there would be no friends and foes for the candidates would give their all to lure the voters to attend meetings and throng the polling stations.

However, whoever or whichever political entities win, there should be no doubt that the upcoming elections will be marked by diabolic remarks detrimental to communal harmony in this multi-ethnic state.



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