Although the Congress party has clinched the two seats of the 16th Lok Sabha election in Manipur, the party has not been able to celebrate its victory at full throttle. Chief minister Okram Ibobi and his team are finding it hard to swallow the bitterest pill of defeat of his party in the parliamentary election – the worst ever in the entire history of the party. The Congress out post in Manipur is saved but its citadels in Delhi and elsewhere have been trounced by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Manipur state Congress Bhawan wore a somber look on the reception day of the two candidates, Dr T Meinya from the Inner Parliamentary constituency and Thangso Baite from the Outer Parliamentary Constituency seats respectively, who defeated their rivals with comfortable margins. The BJP has created history in the recent election, so has O Ibobi with his speech delivered on the reception day of the two candidates. O Ibobi has never delivered such speech of humility in the recent history ever since he took charge as the chief minister of Manipur. He said that the real power is with the people, not with any chief minister, MP or minister; they are meaningless without the peoples’ support. Interestingly, the underground outfits operating in the state have often employed the same idiom in their statements. Though in a slightly different context, peoples’ support in any kind of movement is given the centrality. Furthermore, O Ibobi cautioned his ministerial colleague in the government and its department concerned to complete the ‘developmental work’ they have taken up in time, in the best interest of the people. Clearing doubt that the state would get its equal share of fund from the Centre, even if the BJP led National Democratic Alliance comes to power, as long as the utilisation certificate of the allotted fund is produced. Award-winning moment of O Ibobi’s speech would be when he invoked that India is a federal country and the states of the country have equal rights. Here, we are not reading too much into his statement, but we believe Article 356 of the Indian Constitution must be bothering O Ibobi and the Congress party after May 16 result of the Lok Sabha election. Needless to mention that Article 356 gives power to the central government to proclaim authority over a state, it is argued that the Article has often been misused by the ruling parties in the center as pretext to dissolve a state government.
On the other side of the fence, president of the Manipur BJP unit Th Chaoba is in an upbeat mood. If not, in a crusading spirit to bulldoze corrupt practices in the state. Th Chaoba, like the Left Secular Alliance, has accused the Congress of electoral misconduct. Though his party candidates failed to win the election, he claims that the performance of his party has improved from the last general election. Th Chaoba has also promised to raise myriad issues that have been boggling the state during the state party president meeting of the BJP, to be held in Delhi after the oath taking ceremony of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. Th Chaoba almost sounded like a cabinet minister elect in the NDA government. One must laud Th Chaoba for drumming up the enthusiasm of his party after the resounding victory. Should we also remind that Th Chaoba himself has been a cabinet minister in the past NDA led government? The people of Manipur have seen how well he has performed during his tenure as a cabinet minister at the Center. For a party like the BJP that gives centrality to its time-tested pracharaks, any issue that Th Chaoba raises, be that of utmost importance will be scrutinised thoroughly by the party’s think tank. This is not about Th Chaoba’s integrity or his political acumen. But this is very precisely because the BJP state unit president Th Chaoba has not been a pracharak. He was neither groomed with khaki knickers in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh training ground nor baptised with Hindutwa ideology like other hard core BJP members. In fact, Th Chaoba and most of his party members of Manipur were born into BJP well over-grown, too late to indoctrinate the RSS ideology. But they are still kept under the party’s fold for political-organisational convenience of the party by its central leadership. For that matter, Dr RK Ranjan, its candidate in the recent election is the youngest entrant to the party. The announcement of his candidature before the election had created ruffles within the party. In the days ahead we foresee political drama of a unique kind unfolding in the state, with O Ibobi and Th Chaoba in the lead role.