TODAY -

An era has gone with Rishang Keishing's demise

Kshetrimayum Santa *

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



Pabung Rishang Keishing left us with many questions for a peaceful co-existence in a multi ethnic world. He was a disciplinarian, a humanitarian and a statesman of our region . Today, we lost the Grand Oldest Indian Parliamentarian of the contemporary Indian Democracy. Pabung Rishang, a beloved Leader, was respected by every Manipuri cutting across of caste, creed, community, ethnicity, religion and political affiliations.

He led Manipur to a new era of struggle after the demise of communist Jananeta Hijam Irawat during the 1950s and early 1960s as a socialist stalwart in our lovely state, Manipur. He began his political journey as a member of All India Student's Federation (AISF), the only united student movement for India's freedom from British colonial rule.

He represented the Manipuri students to the 5th National Conference of AISF at Delhi during the height of 2nd WW on January 1-2, 1940 which was also attended by Emasi MK Binodini, interestingly she was in the Presidium to preside the sessions of the National meet. The sessions took many resolutions for India's independence and on world political developments of the decade (as told by Emasi Binodini and Comrade Benoy Choudhury to me).

Pabung Rishang, as fondly called by younger Manipuri generations, was a multi faceted personality. He was a sports person, a socialist, a social worker and above all a servant of the people. He served the country particularly Manipur in many capacities as a Parliamentarian, legislator, administrator and as a social activist.

I had a lot of interactions with Pabung Rishang during my 38 years of political life. During his last days of Chief Ministership of the fourth term, there was an ethnic violence at Churachandpur. During that time his Ministry was challenged by rebel Congress legislators and his opponent parties . One October evening (1997) , I was summoned by Pabung to his office. I along with my Comrade Sarat Salam went to meet him. We entered straight to his official room as no one interrupted our entry for we were summoned by the CM himself.

We found that Pabung was in the mist of a discussion with an Army officer on counter insurgency measures after the ambush near Keithelmanbi at Imphal-Jiri Road. I noticed that uncle Y. Erabot was also in the room to discuss the political upsurge of the days . The Army officer and uncle Erabot left the room after a brief discussion. Then Pabung Rishang told us that the situation in Churachandpur was alarming and Manipur need a united effort to calm down the situation .

Suddenly a telephone hotline call came from Delhi, that's from Oscar Fernandez, the Congress party's in charge of Manipur . Pabung received the call and listened attentively the words from the other end. We didn't hear any words from Fernandez but guessed that was on the division inside their party and Pabung replied with a strong words telling that he commands the majority legislators of his party and he warned his opponents through Fernandez that they should come forward and discuss the problem in a democratic way.

He told that he was willing to resign if he was proved minority. The telephonic discussion concluded within a short period. To our astonishment, Pabung Rishang talked like tiger to Fernandez. After a session of tea he said that the then Joint Secretary of Home Affairs, Mr. GK Pillaiwas coming to take stock of the Churachandpur situation as he was instructed by the Union MHA.

Pabung invited the state leaders of Congress , BJP, Janata Dal, CPI(M) etc. to participate in the public meeting which was scheduled to be held at Churachandpur. We accepted the invitation and left the room for our office at Paona Bazar. In the meantime fast and hectic political developments occurred in Manipur. The rebel Congress legislators organised a camp and W. Nipamacha Singh was elected their leader. Opposition parties viz. MPP and CPI too were with Nipamacha faction of Congress .

As scheduled, the Churachandpur Meeting was held in earnest. Pabung Rishang, Pabung Kullabidhu (JD), Pabung Bhubon (BJP), GK Pillai, myself addressed the public meeting. And the warring ethnic groups decided to call off the movements and to live in peace in the interest of Manipur. The Meeting was also attended by Pu TN Haokip and Pu V Hangkhalien, the then and present MLAs of Manipur and Comrade Sarat Salam. That was the last public appearance of Pabung as the Chief Minister of Manipur. Thereafter history flows with Manipur river towards a vast unpredictable political ocean .

In another occasion, Pabung Rishang invited Comrade Benoy Choudhury, a Polit Bureau Member of CPI(M), for a lunch on the evening of Centenary celebration of Jananeta Hijam Irawat Singh at his official bungalow. Pabung also instructed uncle Th. Debendra Singh, the then Cabinet Minister of Manipur, as he spoke Bengoli very well, to participate in the lunch.

Comrade Noorul Huda, Conrade MeitramShamu and myself attended the lunch party. Pabung Rishang gave traditional Tangkhul naga shawls to Comrade Benoy and Comrade Huda as a gift of respect. They didn't discuss the then political developments but they discussed Calcutta of the 1940's and the then movements in India. They enjoyed the discussion, I was just a listener.

My writing is of the other side of Pabung and his political life. Indeed, Manipur lost a true son of her soil, someone who is gifted with the international and National outlook. A remarkable era has gone with his death. I salute Pabung Rishang Keishing.


* Kshetrimayum Santa wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Secretariat Member of CPI (Marxist) Manipur
This article was posted on September 08, 2017.


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