By C. Doungel
The overwhelming majority won by the Congress in the last general election (2012 January) has frightened the people of Manipur rather than make them rejoice. For, the masses know that such landslide victory was the result of unabashed use of muscle power, money power and manipulation of Electronic Machine by conscienceless state leadership of the Congress. The mystery about the people staying close to where EVMs were stored having heard buzzing of the machines during night times has been solved after counting was over. Astounding results totally contrary to expectations and cries of foul all over had confirmed manipulation. In the hills, insurgents under Suspension of Operations were utilized to capture booths by the ruling party with the government acting as facilitator. No wonder, intense infighting and absence of an acceptable leadership had bogged down ministry formation for months casting doubt on the stability. This however turned out to be a blessing in disguise-Ion the ministers already sworn in availed the chance to monopolize what is cynically called ” Marchloot ” i.e. withdrawal of huge funds at the financial year end amounting to Rs.700 crores, which forms about one-fourth of expenditure for an entire year. Perhaps, the benefit from this alone would have substantially made good the election expenses. A state like Manipur having poor resource base and depending on central assistance for more than 90% of their fund requirements has to follow the maxim that one rupee saved is one rupee earned as far as possible. The opposite has happened.
The bane in our state is that integrity of character and sacrifice are something not much heard of. People are assessing how grim their future will be in a state with a withering economy to be caused by financial stringency. For, in Manipur money circulation largely depend on government spendings. Further that the Central government will come out liberally to rescue the state is rather remote because they are unable to control their deficit and increase tax collection. Repetition of the grim financial situation a decade ago is being visualized by people once more. The prospect of living under a regime headed by self seeking leaders presents a bleak picture. In other words, there is nothing much to write home about,. the great electoral victory.
Peoples` ire caused by their desperation is manifest all over. That they react so violently to any mishap, crime and unfortunate incident is the result of lack of governance and misrule. For lack of faith in the government that justice will be meted out, outraged people gather in anger like lynch mobs and take law into their own hands without waiting for the law to take its own course. Formation of JACs, action by meira paibies or by clubs or mobrule emanate directly from misrule. This is so because people see the government i.e. the ministers, the MLAs, beauracrats , olice
officers, etc only as arrogant and corrupt oppressors and not as impartial enforcers of the rule of law. Our problems are more of crisis of character and integrity born out of lack of vision, greed and clashes of group interests. Rising corruptions, crimes and prices are what the common man finds himself confronted with. Whether bad economics and worse politics will give any relief to them will depend on the vision and political will of the . government now in power and how the problems are tackled. Ceasefire with NSCN-IM and Suspension of
Operations with Kuki outfits are supposed to reduce violence but it has not. Business of extortion goes on as usual often with tacit blessings of the security forces and the state police or without. Though encounters with the security forces may have been reduced, violence on the public has increased with impunity. Kuki outfits are heard talking about political dialogue to negotiate about Kuki State. They themselves have however foreclosed it when they agreed to upholding the integrity of Manipur. The feeling for districthood of Sadar Hills is very strong which is also legitimate. The apprehension is whether upgradation of a truncated Sadar Hills district only will be made. It will be good to remember that districts cannot be created on communal line. The population of Sadar Hills is 1,70,000 which is the highest of the hill district except Churachandpur district. Peace negotiation between Government of India and NSCN-IM cadres has gone on for more than a decade. Large number of NSCN-IM cadres including some of their topmost leaders are from Manipur who will be left out in the event of Naga integration not coming through. One difficulty is that it is not a homogeneous group i.e. people speaking same language and having same culture who are to be integrated to a similar group. Besides, reconciling different Naga rebel factions and those representing different interests should precede any final settlement. The prospect also further receded with signing of ceasefire between Khaplang faction and Government of Myanmar. Meanwhile, extortions by insurgents goes on, accompanied most of the time by kidnapping for ransom in the Northeast. While Maoists kidnap people for a political purpose, Northeast insurgents kidnap only for money ransom. This shows that monetary gain is one of their main interest now. No wonder, they are losing sympathy and respect of civil society. It is also said that Meetei insurgents are having flourishing business in Namphalong-Moreh and earlier even in Bangladesh. If and when the Meetei insurgents come to the negotiating table and everyone has put forth their views, the extent of adjustment among different groups will come into place with realization of their limitations.
Harping on the illegality or otherwise of the merger agreement will not lead us to any positive solution for peace. What is more needed is how to move forward. Though Government of India have all along assured that the integrity of Manipur will be maintained at any cost, other problems like Supra State and separate arrangements still loom large keeping the spirit Naga integration alive. How to bring about adjustments which will promote harmonious co-existence and solutions of the problems amongst the people of Manipur is more important than chasing the will `o` wisp. An important first step could be introduction of Sixth Schedule to the existing District Councils to strengthen the bond of love between the hill and valley people. This can send a message that Manipur belongs to all instead of giving the impression that there are some people who own it.