Matter of stewardship


by Heigrujam Nabashyam
Developments in Kashmir, in the last two months have shaken the mind of the government of India. The prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh had called upon the Kashmiri youths, who spearheaded the turmoil, to return to their schools and colleges because “without education there can be no progress”. The call of the prime minister on the Kashmiris from his Residence was telecast live although it was a deviation – a deliberate one – from protocol to reach out to the people.

The approach of the prime minister to Kashmir or to the Northeast is a subtle change in dealing with such tricky and complex trouble spots; this was not noticed in earlier governments. In his address to the Kashmiris he did not fault the stone-pelting youths nor the patrons of the turmoil – at least in public. In fact he shared the anguish of the Kashmiri people at the loss of life of their “near ones”. He had also noted their “sentiments against the AFSPA” like he did with regard to Manipur in the Manorama episode which had ultimately led to the liberation of Kangla. The strategy of the Prime Minister with apparent nuance of approach to such complex issues is the hallmark of Dr. Manmohan Singh.

One may remember that during the now famous economic blockade of Manipur – both the 52 days’ in 2005 and the 68 days’ a few months ago – when the blockade people –  ANSAM and UNC  – took their demand to Dr. Manmohan Singh, they were not only given a patient hearing but he had also noted their anger for not being heard sufficiently or not heard at all by the “deaf and dumb” or “the communal” government of Manipur.
In both the cases of blockade, it was the prime minister who made – the blockade people, suspend the blockade to alleviate the suffering of the common man – a job the Chief Minister of Manipur should have done invariably. In fact, why in the first place should the Chief Minister gave the blockade people the seemingly high moral ground and the opportunity to show their destructive power ? The Chief Minister should have given the answer and if he could not he should have resigned, if he has some sense of responsibility.

I remember an important member of the All Political Parties delegation of Manipur to Delhi, who met the Prime Minister, telling me how Dr. Singh expressed his displeasure to Ibobi Singh for depending on the centre even for a solution for an agitation, despite the center’s unreserved support given to Manipur government both in terms of money and security forces and asked him how he was going to govern Manipur in such a case ?

In his Independence Day address to the nation the Prime Minister had called upon the Kashmiri militants to agree to talk to find a solution. He had outlined his government’s intent to have meaningful dialogue with them. He also had made similar appeal to the militants of the Northeast and to the mainland Maoist militants, too.

And in similar spirit but perhaps on a different wavelength the Chief Minister in his Independence Day address had also called upon ANSAM and UNC Echinenao-brothers to agree to talk. He had also assured them that his government was considering giving maximum power to the District Councils on par with those councils in other Northeast states established under the sixth schedule.

The interesting part of the story is earlier it was ANSAM and UNC who asked the government for negotiation and that it was Ibobi Singh who ignored their cry. And now what is amusing is the effrontery of the Chief Minister calling on ANSAM and UNC to agree to talk evoking the love of Echin-enao after months of  –  meditation ? And it is believed that the “wanted tag” on the Echin-enao would also be removed in the spirit of brotherhood.

Now, UNC and ANSAM should be very grateful to the Chief Minister for his service to them. He has given them the recognition of being the only legitimate and mandated civil society organizations of Manipur ever, by referring to them in no unclear terms, in his address to the people on 64th anniversary of India’s Independence and he also internationalize their power which had echoed even in the European parliament leave aside Indian parliament because Manipur government was powerless against their power. One therefore believes the matter between the Echin-enao should end there  –  a master stroke of diplomacy !

However the true spirit of Echin-enao is still missing. The common man have yet to feel the warmth of brotherhood either in ANSAM and UNC or in the big brother, the CEO of Manipur  –  only the other day two loaded trucks was set on fire on NH 53 and also the Wanted Tag has not been removed yet. However, the common man as are their wont are not much bothered about the action or inaction of the government which have affected them terribly; perhaps they are inured in this chaotic environment. But who cares for Leibaak-meeyaam – ordinary people with nearly seven lakhs people unemployed or is it that Jaise Praja Waise Raja- we deserve what we get ? But the moment we – the leader of the locality/clubs, opinion makers and the intellects – do honestly attempt to answer the question we would regain our confidence and be on track for the much needed change without costing a rupee.

Writer is a ex-candidate of Singjamei Assembly Constituency.


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