OF A FOURTH IBOBI
Among the myriad of issues facing the state, the three regimes of the Congress party in Manipur have tackled a few successfully. Ibobi-I, Ibobi-II and Ibobi-III have earned the faith and confidence of the people. Consistency and continuance of the present governance is required for state’s lasting peace and prosperity. Only a fourth Ibobi will be able to bring peace and prosperity in Manipur.
The hen and the egg – which came first ? Those who believe eggs exist prior to the hens must also be unanimous on the maxim ‘hens hatching eggs’. Similarly, progress can be made in a society where there is peace. And peace will remain in societies where there is progress. Here, peace means peace of mind and progress means progress in thought and action. Silencing the people’s voice is not peace. Subduing an agitation or a strike does not mean peace. Peace refers to durable security of life and property of the people. Progress does not mean only erecting huge physical structures. It means self-reliance and self-sufficiency. Manipur is yet to go a long way to achieve the duo – peace and progress.
Political instability and financial irregularity were diagnosed and treated to some extent during the first edition of Ibobi regime. With the instatement of a stable government, the congress led coalition could somewhat make improvements in state’s financial position. Shri Ibobi led government has coincidentally been benefitted by the Anti-defection statute and the parallel rule of Congress party at the Centre. Law and order, insurgency, terrorist activities of state and non-state activities etc. were the main challenges faced by the Second edition of Ibobi regime. The Ibobi-II proudly claimed that state’s law and order situation was considerably improved, insurgent and terrorist activities had considerably diminished. Interestingly, the people of Manipur gave their verdict for a strong Ibobi-III during the last General elections.
During Ibobi-III rule now, we can see the uncovering of age-old drugs trafficking business involving people at high levels, and the fake encounter incidents perpetrated by security people in the name of counter insurgency. Violation of child rights, atrocities against women and corruption at high level offices have become major features of the third Ibobi period. Although some infrastructural make-ups have appeared in the city areas, we have not seen any durable establishment to provide employment to the millions of educated youths. The state has not entered into the arena of self-reliance and self-sufficiency. The blunders in education sector, which had remained the most corrupt and irregular in past regimes, is being reformed with the greatest efforts. In spite of lack equipment and nourishment, Manipur has been able to register more achievements in various sports events during the third Ibobi regime.
Nevertheless, the last three regimes of congress party have successfully set the goal of peace and progress, although yearning for them is still a herculean task. Insecurity of women and children, drugs trafficking and abuse, corruption at higher levels, inflow of outsiders, insecure highways etc. are the greatest hurdles facing the Manipur society. Do we need a fourth Ibobi to tackle these problems ? Or will the electorate look for some other options ? The answer is a big NO. Having experienced various regimes, the people of Manipur may well claim that only the Ibobi Series has been and will be able to visualize something concrete for the people of Manipur. Financial, political and social chaos which reigned in the state during the past 3-4 decades have been somewhat altered with the iron hands of the present regime. Now, the same regime is optimistically looking east for the state’s progress and prosperity.
The closer the relations between India and neighboring Myanmar, the weaker will be the insurgency activities in the state. Democratizing Burma and strengthening its ties with India government will bring great changes to social, political and economic stature of Manipur. How we can reap the benefits arising out of the new Indo-Myanmar connectivity is a big concern among the state’s think-tanks. If we don’t have the skills to harvest the right opportunities, opening of the East will ruin us more and more.
Now, the third Ibobi is heading towards the east to make a marriage of convenience with neighboring Myanmar. As part of strengthening relations between Myanmar and Manipur on various aspects, the state Chief Minister is visiting Myanmar along with his powerful team at the close of this month. The tour is slated to focus primarily on Tourism, Imphal-Mandalay Bus Service, supply of electricity to Myanmar by Manipur and trade relations. Hopefully, the mission has started. However, it is questionable whether the people of the state are well prepared to reap the fruits.
Strict laws to contain illicit drug trafficking must be enforced before the free movement of people between Myanmar and India is established. Otherwise, the drugs trade will increase in quantum and change its mode. The state will be victimized more and more as compared to the past. Laws suitable to this border state have to be formulated and enforced to check the onslaught of foreigners, prior to the opening of the by-road gateway to the eastern countries. Now, Manipur is facing the problem of inflow of immigrants from other Indian states and Bangladesh. As we open out the Indo-Myanmar highways, the issue of immigrants will turn a new face and it may be more severe then. Do we need a fourth Ibobi to tackle these burning problems ? Or shall we entrust the cleansing tasks to another Pilot ?