The acrimony created in the electioneering for the two forthcoming bye elections to the Thongju and Thangmeiband Assembly constituencies, left vacant by the disqualification of the their Trinamool Congress MLAs under the Anti Defection Law is unseemly and unfortunately. Perhaps it would be wrong to say this round of electioneering has been uniquely given to below the belt deliveries, for indeed such styles of negative campaigning has become a hallmark of a number of grossly immature politicians of the state, and sadly in this category would belong many who can claim to be veterans in the vocation. In the current scenario, the exchanges between the BJP and the Congress, each literally alleging the other of scheming to disintegrate Manipur, is in particularly devoid of taste or logic. It is everybody`™s knowledge that no political party in Manipur, except those ideologically bound to seek such a disintegration, and have very sectarian and ethnic exclusive support bases, such as the Naga People`™s Front, NFP, would hold such a view. No broad-based party with voters across the ethnic spectrum of the state can afford to think of embracing such a stance and win elections. The Congress and the BJP would belong to this latter category, and even if the fallouts of some of their policies have in the past caused public apprehensions, it would be extremely unfair and foolish to say these have been deliberate. They simply cannot afford to take on such a political posture and hope to remain as a major party capable of staking claim to form the government when electoral fortune smiles.
Our advice to these politicians is to grow up and act mature, first and foremost. They should get back to the serious business of politics and not regress to the infantile game of digging up each other`™s petty pasts in the hope of gaining political mileage. It is a game in which both lose. They should not take the electorate to be stupid, for they know what it is that has caused the society the most damage. Any opinion poll will confirm that the culture of corruption and loyalty switching these contractor turned politicians have brought in has been most damaging to the society, and are still the biggest threat to the state`™s moral integrity than any other agent. The harm these campaigns do by themselves in the long run is immeasurable too, for the bitter aftertastes do not wash away easily. They linger on to damage inter-community relationships, cause unwarranted mutual suspicions, create hostile fault-lines etc. It is often said, a culture of liberalism should be a precondition of a healthy democratic polity, for in an illiberal set up, democracy can divide rather than unite. The manner in which Eastern European countries, such as the former Yugoslavia crumbled upon the introduction of democracy, right before the eyes of the world is evidence enough. Democratic contests devoid of the air of liberalism can be bitter unnecessarily, and split the society into factions. Although it is unlikely this theory was current in Manipur anytime, intuitively the past generations have understood this divisive character of democracy. In school and college elections therefore, their advice to the youth was always to avoid elections and to try and evolve consensus office bearers to the extent possible. They foresaw that in environments still raw and immature, the divisions that election and electioneering cause will linger on long after the election and harm relations among the students. It is to everybody`™s dismay that this school boyish immaturity still prevails in Manipur`™s brand of politics and supposedly experienced veterans in the field.
It is however not just during electioneering that this immaturity shows up in Manipur`™s politics. Recall the manner in which an honourable MLA took it upon himself to assert on the floor of the Assembly that there were no Nagas in Manipur. Recall also how he had to swallow his words the next day when he had to issue a formal apology and a lame excuse that he meant there were no Nagaland Nagas in Manipur. For his information, there are Angamis in Manipur according to census records. What these politicians do not realise in the one-up-manship political games is the damage they do to the everyday relationship between the people on the ground. There are also activist opportunists inimical to the interest of the state, quoting these irresponsible statements to claim they represent the general sentiment of the people by and large. The harm that such plebeian political leadership have been doing to the social fabric of the place is immense. The best remedy at this moment is for these leaders to try growing out of their schoolboy mind sets.