Hiyanglam Litmus Test

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The bye poll to the Hiyanglam Assembly constituency ultimately went to the ruling Congress. Though only for a single seat, and that too with only a little over two years left for the term of the current Assembly to end, the contest was unusually hot. The main contenders were the ruling Congress, already in a dominant position in the House, the BJP, shining on the reflected halo of charismatic Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the Trinamool Congress, the second largest party in the Assembly but currently under severe internal strife, as well as the MPP, now only a shadow of what it was once. This was expected though, for the main stake was whether chief minister Okram Ibobi`™s government, which enjoys an absolute majority, would actually be able withstand the Modi wave sweeping the country, demolishing his party the Congress almost with systematic certainty. Till Sunday, this BJP storm proved unstoppable, with Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly going the BJP way convincingly. Hiyanglam was therefore important for more reasons than numbers. Ibobi however has once again proven the Northeast is an exception, most of the time preferring the Congress over any of its major rivals, although signs of the Congress caving in to BJP pressures were already visible in Assam in the last Parliamentary election.

Hiyanglam is just one seat, and theoretically even if this seat had gone to the BJP, the party would have had only one seat in the House of 60, and therefore should still have remained insignificant. But the insecure and extremely selfish nature of politics in the State being such, even a tiny chink in the Congress armour could have led to major breaches ultimately causing dam bursts, and through the once rampant but now subdued culture of political defection, the State BJP`™s bluff could actually have transformed from a paper tiger to a real menace. This would have been so, especially if the Governor of the State ceased to be a neutral arbitrator and became the BJP`™s cheerleader. In view of the manner in which State Governors were shunted or removed upon the BJP ascending to power at the Centre, there was reasonable suspicion amongst the people this could actually prove to be the scenario, unfortunate as this would have been for the future of Indian politics. But this was just a conjecture, and as things are turning out, quite unnecessary as well. In any case it is unfair to presume the State`™s new Governor would have a BJP tilt. Under the circumstance, the only thing which could have been still predicted with reasonable accuracy would have been the eagerness with which our MLAs would have switched sides for personal gains, should they have perceived a possible change in the political power equation in the State. Unfortunately for them, the Hiyanglam result has not given them this opportunity.
There were however more reasons why the ambitions of the political chameleons amongst our ruling MLAs, as well as the State BJP`™s vaunts of an imminent entry into a position of dominance in the Assembly by the back door without winning the people`™s mandate via the election process, would have proven elusive. The Central BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi, currently riding high on a popularity wave, winning convincingly in actual political arenas one after another in the country, do not need to be stooping to this extent just to lap up small State Assemblies. In fact, Modi probably would not even want to risk entering controversial territories of politics so routine in the past, and tarnish his formidable reputation, at least just as yet.

Leader Writer: Pradip Phanjoubam

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