TODAY -

The test of leadership failed
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: June 17, 2024 -



"THE saddest thing about betrayal is that it never comes from your enemies." - Anonymous

We had said it was the right thing to do when chief minister N Biren Singh remained steadfast to his plan of visiting Jiribam district, undaunted by the ambush laid on his advance security team by armed Kuki-Chin militants along the National Highway 37 near Kotlien on June 10.

We had said then that apart from sending out a strong message to the armed Kuki-Chin militants, who are making repeated attempts to break apart Manipur, this planned visit of the chief minister to Jiribam to personally assess the situation prevailing there following outbreak of fresh communal violence between the Meetei/Meitei and Kuki-Chin communities would be a crucial moment in the over one year long ethnic conflict in the state that has so far resulted in loss of hundreds of precious human lives and displacement of thousands of families, on both sides of the clash divide, not to speak of its debilitating impact on the people of other communities who have managed to stay neutral from taking sides in the conflict despite numerous provocations.

We had also said that it is now incumbent upon the people of Manipur to take a decisive stand even if the government of India and its security forces have been acting otherwise despite the ploy of armed Kuki-Chin militants to create a separate state or nation by carving out territories from India, Myanmar and Bangladesh with support from some western countries, which had been revealed and spelled out in no uncertain terms by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself, and so the planned visit of the chief minister to Jiribam as the executive head of the state government would help in conveying the stand of the people of Manipur, who are now becoming apprehensive, if not fully convinced, of a hidden agenda of the government of India in allowing the ethnic conflict between the Meetei/Meitei and Kuki-Chin communities to go for so

long. Most importantly, we had said that by reaching out to the people of faraway Jiribam, which is located at distance of 220 kilometres from the state capital Imphal, chief minister N Biren Singh could demonstrate not only his own 'avowed' commitment but also of his government to protect the territorial integrity of Manipur and its people.

In fact, we still feel that at a time when the popularity of his party and the government led by it has suffered following the defeat in the just concluded general elections to the 18th Lok Sabha election, and there is evergrowing discontentment among the people who are now openly shouting slogans calling for resignation of all the ministers and MLAs who cannot save Manipur, the outcome of chief minister N Biren Singh's Jiribam visit was going to be a test of his true leadership underfire.

But the abrupt cancellation of the highly anticipated visit without giving any credible reason after being procrastinated for nearly a week has shown that the test of leadership has failed.

When promises made by politicians Seem to dissipate into thin air, it is very important for any elected representatives to keep their words as breaking a promise or failing to keep one's words conveys a message that they don't value the people to whom they gave their words, thus, undermining their own credibility in the eyes of the same people.

So, apart from making himself the soft target of his detractors, who would now take advantage of this failure to raise question not only on his leadership but also on the commitment of the government to protect the state and its people; cancellation of the chief minister's visit is surely going to make the people of Jiribam district feel truly abandoned and betrayed.

The saddest thing about this betrayal, as we have quoted at the very outset of this commentary, is that it has not come from the people of a community who have gone against an earlier mutually agreed pact for maintaining peace in the district, but from the executive head of the state, who has now turned his back on the people after giving some false hopes.



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