TODAY -

Post election scenario : Manipur

Yambem Laba *



The die has been cast. Manipur now has a BJP Member of Parliamment duly elected to the Lok Sabha. And the Naga People’s Front(NPF) has also won the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency.

The BJP man Dr RK Ranjan is no saffron clad Hinduvta Bhakt but is a liberal minded man who had spent years in trying to forge Hills and Plains unit through the Manipur Cultural Integration Forum and is also a well known environmentalist of the State.

And the NPF man Dr Lorho Pfoze is also not a known Meitei baiter.While there were 18 claimants for the BJP ticket their top brass picked Dr Ranjan on account of the fact that he had stood in 2014 also and now that their win ability chances were increasing they thought of doing poetic justice to him.

But the Congress gave him a run for the money and he won by a slender 16,000 plus margin votes.He got the maximum in Andro where the Congress strongman now with the BJP threw in his might and so also in the Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s Heingang Assembly Constituency, where voters voted en mass for him not because of their love for the BJP but for hatred of former Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh for his betrayal during the last Assembly elections in 2017.

But for the records this Chief Minister’s Constituency also saw repoll in five polling stations for alleged attempts at rigging.Then he also polled the maximum at Thongju Assembly Constituency home of BJP strongman and Minister Thongam Biswajit.

But the other main revealation is the establishing of a base by the NPF man Dr Lorho. The Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency has six constituencies in the valley area. And the fact that Dr Lorho was able to establish polling booths in some of these constituencies is remarkable for the very fact that the NPF has been seen by the majority Meiteis as being anti-Manipur in its outlookand to break the territorial integrity of the State with its demand for inclusion of Naga areas of Manipur into Nagaland.

Apparently some Meitei youth leaders had met him and extracted an understanding from him that once elected he will also voice concerns of the valley people in Parliament and also that he will not be too vocal about breaking up of Manipur.

And the few thousands of votes that he had polled in the valley area could sound the beginning of a new chapter in the Naga-Meitei relationship. The BJP candidate H Shokhopao who was allegedly backed by the Kuki militants now under a Suspension of Operation with the State and Central Governments came a distant second when the results were announced Dr Lorho having swept the Naga districts of Senapati, Ukhrul and Kamjong.

But all that apart the BJP victory in the Valley has its maximum impact on the various Civil Society Organisations that was in the forefront of the agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). That was the major weapon of the detractors of the BJP even as the BJP chief Amit Shah had announced that the CAB will be pushed through post 2019 elections.

Plus there was also the non clearance by the Centre of the Manipur People’s Protection Bill a native version of the Inner Line Permit system which regulates the entry of outsiders of mainland India into the States of Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.

But all the hue and cry notwithstanding the people voted for the BJP candidate and the angst of the people of the people have fallen on the Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and judging by posts on the social media these CSOs are in for a hard time as they have openly been challenged to dare to raise the issue of the CAB again. But the angst against the CSOs apart the BJP top brass seems to be unhappy with Chief Minister N Biren Singh over the handling of the CAB issue in Manipur.

Not only did he make an attempt to explain the nitty gritties of the CAB to the people but he had arranged for a mammoth reception in Imphal after the CAB Bill was not passed in the Rajya Sabha almost taking the credit for it before the Manipuri public for its non implementation. It was playing to the gallery at its worst and now there are talks that the saffron brigade might consider replacing him.

But what is of immediate threat to Shri N Biren’s Ministry is the open declaration by the constituent Naga People’s Front with its four members to withdraw support to the Government. This decision was reached at Kohima before the elections wherein it was decided that in principal they will withdraw support as they do not appreciate the manner in which the BJP has been treating the NPF although being a coalition partner.

Post election the NPF has reiterated its early stance. The NPF has one of its four MLAs currently serving as a Minister. The grumblings of the NPF apart the honeymoon with the Conrad Sangma led National Peoples Party which also has four MLAs and all Ministers in the Biren Singh led Government. There are talks that some of them might be dropped in the forthcoming elections with the axe likely to fall upon Deputy Chief Minister Yumnam Joykumar Singh.

But in case that happens then the BJP Government in Manipur is in for serious trouble for if the NPF and the NPP withdraw support then the BJP which has only 22 MLAs in the house of 60 will soon be a minority. There are eight MLAs from the Congress who have switched sides to the BJP but since they continue to be seated in the Opposition bench in the Assembly they technically remain as Congress MLAs. So all said and done the BJP government in the State may be in for a jolt.


* Yambem Laba wrote this article which was published at The Sangai Express
The writer is the Imphal based Special Representative of the Statesman
This article was webcasted on June 10 2019.



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