TODAY -

True colour of politicians
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: March 21, 2024 -



AT last, the question of how conducive it is going to be to conduct the election to the 18th Lok Sabha in Manipur, which has been reeling under the devastating impact of an unprecedented ethnic since May 3 last year, seems to have been answered.

If the incident of armed miscreants opening fire at the venue of a consultative programme to be attended by former MLA Alfred K Arthur, who is an intending candidate of the Congress party for the seat of Outer Manipur Parliamentary constituency, at Teinem village in Ukhrul district on March 19 was of any indication, then there should be no more doubt in the mind of the people about the power of bullets over the ballots in deciding the fate of candidates in this election as well.

Manipur is a place not alien to gun violence and intimidation during election times, and this is evident all the more in the hill areas, where the election process is said to be "a rigorous selection process" under the shadow of guns with groups having coercive and persuasive powers usually winning.

But the fact that the Teinem village incident had occurred barely 24 hours after the disruption caused by armed miscreants to the proceeding of a meeting attended by the same intending Congress candidate at the heart of Ukhrul town itself and that too, when all other political parties in the state, with the exception of CPI, are yet to finalise the names of their respective candidates to be fielded from the Inner and Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituencies, says a lot about the things waiting to be unfolded.

Add to this another fact, which is, Ukhrul district being not even one of the main theatres of the ongoing ethnic conflict between the Meetei and the Kuki-Chin communities, then, the answer to the question of how conducive or free and fair the conduct of election to the 18th Lok Sabha in Manipur is going to be becomes even more clearer.

Interestingly, now faced with repeated attacks and intimidations on its intending candidate, Congress party, which had been resorting to use of measured words whenever the public raised the demand for resolving the over 10 months long ethnic conflict before going ahead with the Lok Sabha elections, has started expressing the same apprehension of whether the conduct of upcoming Lok Sabha election in Manipur at this point of time would be free and fair.

While condemning the repeated attacks on its intending candidate for the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency, president of Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) K Meghachandra has sought the attention of Election Commission of India (ECI) for taking serious note of what is happening in the state and deferring the election if the democratic exercise of electing representatives by the people is not going to be free and fair. Such concern is appreciable.

But it's unfortunate that the MPCC president seems to have forgotten rather soon enough what Congress national secretary and in-charge of Sikkim and Nagaland Ranajit Mukherjee had said when he came to Imphal and addressed a press conference on February 17.

In that press conference, Ranajit had tried to convince the people that the stand of his party is the resolution of the conflict as "it's more important than anything else, including elections."

This same mindset of becoming oblivious to all that had been said or done once the election fever caught up is what makes it difficult for the people to differentiate one politician or a political party from another.

Until very recently, left leader L Sotinkumar was similarly calling for resolution of the crisis first before holding the Lok Sabha election while addressing public meetings in his capacity as the general secretary of All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) Manipur State Committee.

But now, he has become the first person to be named as candidate of CPI from the Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency before any other political parties could finalise and announce their candidates.

This is the true colour of all the politicians regardless of which political parties belong to.



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