By Heikrujam Nabashyam
Since the beginning of 2002, more precisely March 6, 2002 subject to correction, Manipur is in the safe hands of CM O. Ibobi Singh and his cabinet. Till date, the 14 long years of unbroken rule of the state in the first two decades of the 21st century have raised a basic question – where do Manipur heading for?
Politics in any form of government and more so in a democratic system is about managing, directing and navigating the socio-politics and economy of the polity. And we are not talking about economy. We are taking about the socio-political condition of the state.
Every single act of a government has a bearing on the socio-political aspects of the state or the country. We are not talking about the routine work of a government. But we are talking of the acts of a government that has policy contents. Such acts have to be taken by a government at any time, whether it likes it or not on any occasion as it calls for.
And this is what political leadership is all about, whether it is in Manipur, or in any state of India or any country in the world.
Now, let us take up one or two instances on how this government of Manipur functions and governs the state. One illustrious instance was the act of the government that had declared June 18, 2002 as Manipur Integrity Day and a holiday too. That year Shri O. Ibobi Singh had led the people of Manipur to offer tributes to the 18 martyrs who had sacrificed their life to protect the unity and integrity of the state at Kekrupat.
That act of the government immediately sparked a strong protest from a section of the people who believed in Nagalim. The national highways across the state were blocked for 52 days by the protagonist of Nagalim and their supporters. Ultimately the CM had to withdraw its holiday policy for the future.
What was important was at that point of time the UPA – I government took a decision not to disturb the territorial integrity of any state and it was put in black and white in the Common Minimum Programme of UPA. That move and the decision of the UPA put the temperament of the leadership of NSCN (IM) in limbo. But that idiotic policy of Shri O. Ibobi Singh gave the NSCN (IM) the much needed shot in the arm as was seen during those 52 days of blockade. Indeed, CM Ibobi rightly deserve a commendation from the NSCN (IM). Interestingly, after 2002 CM Ibobi keeps himself away from Manipur on every June 18.
This act of the government have given the section of the people who aspire for Nagalim an opportunity to call the Manipur government a Meetei government.
Another very important policy of the government is to eliminate or “touthok-khro” in local parlance – every suspect of the valley based militant organizations – worse than AFSPA – and that policy have counted for more than 2500 deaths since his taking over the reins of power of the state in 2002.
The “touthok-khro” policy made Shri Ibobi very unpopular, that even some of the otherwise apologist media persons of the CM had criticized him. However, as the CM’s luck would have it, T. Muivah, the NSCN (IM) supremo was planning to visit his birthplace in Ukhrul. And it was about that juncture that the public was up in arms against the government for killing Rabina and Sanjit in the now confirmed fake encounter in the busy Imphal Bazar area in brood day-light on the fateful day of July 23, 2009.
Shri Ibobi wisely took the opportunity to turn it into his advantage. He become the Avatar of Manipur Integrity by declaring that he would not allow T. Muivah enter Manipur, even when Civil Society Organization who stand for the cause of Manipur Integrity did not raise any protests. That was a sagacious move on the part of the CM to absolve himself from his “touthok-khro” image.
But the sad part of the story is it had un-necessarily antagonized even common Naga public against the Manipur Government, because they identified themselves with Muivah when it comes to the matter of allowing him to visit his birth place as one of them.
The fact of the matter is, Shri Ibobi could have dealt the issue in a more sensible and rational way by taking into confidence the then Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. Shri Ibobi for his personal political advantage played the general public of Manipur against a section of the society who believed they are the boss of the hills. The fact is, Shri Ibobi have helped those who wanted to divide Manipur.
14 unbroken years at the helm of the affairs of the state is undoubtedly a great feat in itself. It is historic. It is a golden opportunity to make changes and bring great development in the state, given the huge economic push in the Indian economy. But what changes has the Ibobi government brought in Manipur?
On February 6, 2016, CSOs, including AMUCO and UCM have planned to tell the government of India once again that Manipur shall remain one so that every single individual citizen can live peacefully irrespective of any difference because Manipur belong to every citizen who live in it. But the fact remains that a section of the society who do not believe in the unity of Manipur have raised a question saying that Manipur government stands for the Meeteis only ?
Here comes the responsibility of the all powerful Manipur government of O. Ibobi Singh to discharge its duty to send a loud and clear message to the entire world that Manipur belongs to every single individual of every community __ big or small, and that no one should question its credibility.
However the irony and indeed a pity is that for the harm and the ills that are caused by the idiotic and puerile policies of this government for which examples are aplenty, in the community atmosphere, it is the civil society organizations who have taken upon themselves the yeoman service to assuage and ameliorate the hurt feelings of the member of the community who have felt let down and betrayed.
It is high time Mr. O. Ibobi and his law making colleagues should behave as leaders of Manipur because they are the leaders of Manipur. They must take upon themselves the task of steering clear of any roadblocks in the community relations in Manipur. Public wants peace. This is their No. 1 Job as in any other state. Don’t the historic Manipur government have the answer and the alternative to the socio-political condition of the state?
The article was sent by Heikrujam Nabashyam to Kanglaonline. He can be contacted at nheikrujua(at)gmail(dot)com.