Elections and Bombs

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The forthcoming election should be unique for the various peculiar interests it is predicted to evoke. In the Naga dominated districts, there will be a referendum of sort on whether the population there still prefer to be affiliated to Manipur or else be part of a greater Nagaland or Nagalim that the NSCN(IM) has been fighting for. In the valley, a conglomerate of underground organisations have come together to oppose the return of the ruling Congress. By proxy, it can verily be said these underground organisations both in the hills as well as in the valley are taking part in the Indian electoral process. For indeed, what is now demonstrated is that it is no longer a matter of indifference to the Indian political system, but of selectively supporting or else opposing contesting parties. Whatever be the reading, as of the moment, what matters most is the immediate fallout of these developments.

What is to be noted is, in the years that have gone by, the Congress has by fair and foul means consolidated its foothold on the entire state, in the valley as well as in the hills. It is now the only party which can field and hope to win seats in both these geographical reasons and amongst all the ethnic groups. This is not a matter of any egalitarian ethos which it alone possesses, but also about how other parties have either allowed themselves to move into a path of self destruction through skewed visions and policies, or else have been forced to disintegrate by the temptation of the Congress’ superior resources. Whatever be the cause, the fact of the matter is, today it can veritably be said that it is only the Congress which can, and has been spreading its wings to all sections of the people. Whatever be its drawbacks, it must be admitted, the Congress has emerged as a binding sinew in many ways to keep a common interest running in the veins of the different communities. The monopoly is bad, but the uneasy fact is, at the moment no other party has the reach or resource to shoulder this responsibility.

This is the party which is sought to be destroyed through the power that flows out of the barrel of the gun. Regardless of whatever the justification in the argument that the coercive power of the Congress’ money is being countered by the coercive power of the gun, the fact would remain that a semblance of political equilibrium provided by ruling party would be what is upset if the campaign to destroy the Congress succeeds. It is difficult under the circumstance to imagine how this upset equilibrium would be reset and how another political equation to fill up the vacuum struck. Political observers are already at a loss how and what new alliance would be able to put parties in the hills and valley together to forge another integrated political agenda that has Manipur’s interest in mind. Which are the non-Congress parties likely to return sizeable seats in the hills and the valley, and more importantly would these parties ever see eye to eye on enough many vital issues to prompt them to come together to form the next government? The picture at best is very foggy at the moment.

This uncertainty apart, there are other areas of concern. To look at it more positively, let us pose this concern as a question to everyone concerned. Can this election be taken as a referendum of support for some of the most crucial issues facing the state? In the hills, the crucial question would be whether there is still a shared emotional integrity in Manipur? In the valley, the matter is a little different. The combined underground forum, more popularly known as CorCom, is opposing the Congress in a radical way. If despite this, the Congress returns a majority, or at least as the single largest party, the message should be clear that the ordinary men and women on the streets do not share the vision of the underground organisations. Are those behind the campaign then be prepared to leave the verdict on this matter to the adult electorate of the state who would be casting their votes on January 28? Whichever way the verdict goes, it can virtually be a recommendation for either side of the conflict. If the Congress is voted in, the message is clear for the non-state players. If the party is voted out, it is the establishment which must introspect and reorient its own approach to the vexing problem. However, we can already predict the excuses which would be forwarded by either side should they lose. One will claim failure, if at all, was the result of gun power trained on them. The other will claim failure, if at all, is the result of money power that bought the electorate. Either explanation would betray a lack of trust in the wisdom and integrity of the common man. The story would also be back at square one.

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