By Heigrujam Nabashyam
Political pundits from Plato and Kautilya to the modern-day gurus say: politics sans principle and morality is self-destructive.
In a democracy people are sovereign. They elect their representatives to take charge of the affairs of the State and govern themselves.
A recent statement issued jointly by New Delhi’s interlocutor and the General Secretary of the NSCN (IM) at Delhi appeared to have questioned this basic tenet of democracy. The joint statement stated that “while the differences between the two parties have narrowed, some of the proposals would require further negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable solution”. The communiqué seems to sound out the dump SPF government and the people regarding their “mutually acceptable solution”.
Although the prospect of finding a solution to the decades-old issue of Naga insurgency is welcome, a sense of doubt and suspicion in the minds of the public – and not without reason – is created by the secretive nature of the talk between the two parties. It was suspected that the Government of India and the NSCN(IM) had put Manipur on the table, although India government had from time to time reassured that they would not do anything against Manipur. Fact is, the Indian government has no moral right and authority to confer with any party or people in any manner that may affect Manipur without the approval and participation of the Manipur Government. This in the best tradition of democracy, is the rule of the game.
As the wise Gurus said, the government of India cannot practice diplomacy and play game without political morality; but only at its own peril. It is a different matter if the GOI requires a long diplomatic rope and hopefully the Lakshman Rekha be not crossed. However the telltale signs tell something unholy which is never a good presage.
The talk it is reported, have entered the final phase and arrived at a crucial stage – the logistics seen of NSCN (IM) and company may be an indicator to it. But one wonders the position and preparedness of the Ibobi government, except for its love of pushing the panic button occasionally whenever it believes Manipur is under threat – according to its myopic vision and strategy – from NSCN(IM) and company.
However after nearly a decade of firm rule by the O. Ibobi Singh government, Manipur seems rather dangerously uncontrollable. Its chief minister is protected 24×7 by hi-tech multi-security-rings of Special Forces from great dangers. The chief minister says even the ADCs (Autonomous District Councils) are threatened and therefore they have to be sheltered in Imphal under tight security away from the Districts’ H.Qs.
Truly, many things in Manipur – man, land, ADCs, and so on have become endangered species in spite of an indomitable leader ruling, since the last decade. We are engulfed with a sense of loss and the situation is made more and more funny too, by the development shenanigans of the government – a clever ploy of the SPF leadership to distract attention from its wrongdoings.
However, according to some development economists O. Ibobi’s government excels the record of all previous governments. The experts it seems, have identified development of Manipur with the multi-million rupees never-completing-projects funded by the Centre for this unlucky state. Interestingly this opinion of the experts is contradicted by none other than the former chief minister, Mr. Rishang Keishing, the towering Congress leader, who had said that despite the huge Central funding “we do not see any development as the funds meant for development works are being misused”.
One may remember the basic indicators of development are the measure of consumption of energy or electricity, water supply and services in roads and transport, health sector and education, etc. But sadly a cursory look at these indicators show dismal performance in most fronts despite the huge funds pumped in. The claim of achievement by the Ibobi’s government is ridiculously illiterate.
Looking at the achievements and its service records, one honestly feels that the O. Ibobi government’s understanding of governance despite it’s nearly decade’s rule seems rather unbelievably limited. Unfortunately its unimaginative and unlettered rule has caused deep communal divide for which the NSCN (IM) and company should be very thankful to Mr. O. Ibobi Singh and his men. This I believe is the greatest achievement of the SPF government.
Nevertheless every player in the game must remember that Manipur is home to no less than three dozen indigenous groups of people living intertwined in all areas of the hills and the valley. And it is in the best interests of each one of us not to raise the bogey of exclusive land rights or somebody’s ancestral land, etc. because no one would agree to it. And it would be futile to attempt to rewrite the history of this ancient land.
And it should also be in the wisdom of government of Manipur to restrain the Centre from doing anything inimical to this symbiotic relationship between the indigenous peoples in this part of the earth.
But one wonders how the O. Ibobi Singh government would deal with the GOI and the NSCN(IM)!