Negation of democracy in Manipur


By Iboyaima Laithangbam

Manipur is experiencing a bizarre democracy which was never visualised by the political thinkers; Aristotle must be crawling in his grave. In fact the mechanics of politics is in a cleft stick though the tipping point is for Okram Ibobi and his close associates. Gaikhangam noted for his plain speaking cannot be at fault for shouting from the housetop that Manipur is bereft of opposition parties. The impotent protest by some persons who were blushed in front of their children with a farrago of half truths was an exercise in futility

The MPP which had once formed a Ministry was regarded as the alternative to the Congress which is impervious to the local issues and everything is remote controlled from the office of Sonia Gandhi. One had expected that it would champion the cuase of the people by discharging its watchdog duty. However the people were crestfallen when its fire spitting MLA praised K. Ranjit on the floor of the House for merely discharging his duty as the works Minister. In a democracy one would have expected exposes of the malpractices and the sub-standard constructions. After some days this MLA once again spoke like Manmohon Singh or Sonia and praised the SPF Ministry for implementing developmental works in the state. Imphal is of the size of the market town of a big state and as such it is comparatively easy to put two and two together to make four.

Other MLAs of the party are also conspicuous by their dismal failure. The mind boggling but easily understandable political blunder was the abstention from the IMC elections at a time when it could have bagged comfortable number of seats. There is no explanation for it. People have a right to ask whether this party should continue. In a vibrant demcoracy like UK the rank and file of the party would have made the leaders accountable for this shameful action and all of them would have deserted the sinking ship if there is no plausible and tenable explanation. But then it has been observed that in Manipur this kind of political immorality does not create ripples. It is a big question whether this party will field any candidate in the forthcoming elections. There is not even the perfunctory requiem for this party which has committed the political harakiri.

The NCP leader contends that his party will be the major player during the Ministry formation after the next elections. Ranjit had torn the self deception of the NCP President asunder by saying that even a single IMC counciller was not elected from the constituency of the NCP President. Ranjit pointed out that the NCP President is merely nursing a pipe dream. Before joining the coalition Ministry the CPI had some credibility. There is no gainsaying the fact that it is at the lowest ebb now. Bijoy Koijam had flayed the CPI for sticking to the Congress like a limpet for political gains. It is a shame that the CPI as a whole could not defend its position. The political strategy of Okram Ibobi who does not have to depend on the political crutches of the CPI is incomprehensible and inexplicable. In every election the CPI will attack the Congress as if it were a sworn enemy. But people know that they are in the same boat and this kind of mud slinging leaves a bad taste in the mouths of the poeple.

New entrants like the Trinamool Congress and the Naga People’s Front are hoping to secure enough seats to rattle Ibobi. However these are yet to be seen. Meanwhile the new music arrangers named “social workers” have been providing the much needed comic relief to the people. This new breed with the unparallelled connotation is found only in Manipur. With the unbridled pre-election splurge by these “social workers” many of them are likely to be elected. This is giving sleepless nights to the Koijams. The elder Koijam had exhorted his henchmen to get prepared for the unlimited expenses and this drew flaks from some sections. Being in the opposition or having fallen from grace the Koijams cannot expect pork barrel fundings ahead of the elections from the mighty one.

To cut of along story short, the opposition parties cannot tip the political balance in the next elections. All towering politicians were castrated, hamstrung and segregated from the political upstarts with the result that they cannot pose any threat to Ibobi. Nothing can stop him from becoming the Chief Minister after the next elections. And those second rank politicians who have proved their mettle will be inducted in the Minsitry. There is always a scramble among them to be in the good books of Ibobi. But then Jyoti Basu had been the Chief Minister for a much longer time.

Is it in the people’s interest and a healthy democracy that one should monopolise state politics so ? Opinions differ. The public debate would have been fruitful in an advanced country like UK. In Manipur Rs 500 notes are all that matter on the day of polls. It was never contemplated that a back bencher like Ibobi would become the Chef Minister. On the eve of swearing in ceremony there was a front page cartoon about Ibobi solioquizing from within his mosquito curtains about his becoming the Chief Minister. It goes to his credit that in the 10 years he has cemeted his position, marginalised his enemies and pinpointed the weaknesses of his friends and foes. But the Opposition MLAs should tell the people whether it is in the interest of the people to have a Chief Minister for several terms.

Ibobi has crossed the Rubicon and the political pigmies cannot stop him now. Aristotle must be weeping inside his coffin.


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