BJP vs. Congress: Setting the right agenda

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By:Seram Neken

No political party in Manipur is now seen engaging itself in election campaign, in the real sense of the term. In fact, the political parties and their heavyweights are putting their valued pre-poll time and energy, not in wooing voters but in calculating winnable candidates for the upcoming general elections. Campaign to educate and motivate the public on a variety of issues is quite absent in Manipur. Political leaders of the three polarized camps – Congress, BJP and the third front, have put their heads together in separate camps for strategic political maneuvering that may encourage horse-trading with the record highest bids. ‘Old wine in new bottle’ will definitely be the next government of Manipur, whether it be under the Hand or the Lotus symbols. The Manipur government may be of the BJP or the Congress, but those in it will be the same old personalities. As a major political party, the Indian National Congress (or the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee) appears to be a bit relaxed after the sudden move of district formation which has unexpectedly turned out to be a boon for the ruling Okram Ibobi led Congress party. The Congress party, which was supposed to be ailing with the high-fever of anti-incumbency for its much-talked about mis-governance, bribery, high degree of nepotism, and inherent VVIPism, appears to have startlingly earned a purchased popularity to the extent that even the hill people have begun to shout “Long live Ibobi” in some places like Kangpokpi, Pherzol, Tengnoupal, Noneh and Kamjong districts. It is for sure that no incumbency or otherwise factor of the INC will influence the electorate of the newly formed seven districts including Jiribam and Kakching. Maximum number of Congress candidates is likely to be voted from these new districts, as against the so called BJP-Wave or NaMo-wave sweeping across India. As for the valley dwellers, the major election agendum will be on the prolonged economic blockade sponsored by the bête noire United Naga Council. The public perception being the inherent nexus between the UNC, NSCN(IM) and Government of India (or the BJP) arising out of the framework agreement signed between the Modi Government and the negotiating NSCN(IM) at the dawn of the current NDA dispensation at the centre, the commonmen in valley districts are likely to hate the BJP at any cost. The chronology of events from Ukhrul firing on Chief Minister’s visit, UNC’s prolonged economic blockade, involvement of armed NSCN(IM) cadres in the blockade, Tengnoupal attacks on state forces near the security posts, arms snatching from state forces in Noneh and further violence in the hills have amplified the public notoriety towards the UNC, which may adversely affect the prospect of BJP candidates. The former BJP legislature party chief Kh Joykishan deserting party to join the Congress was also a factor for diminishing BJP’s strength in Manipur. On the other hand, the BJP being the ruling party at the centre with its charismatic NaMo personality, has embraced numerous prospective candidates in its fold without pondering over the likely consequences on its organization. Subsequently, the state BJP now seems to be in a difficult situation to decide the candidates for the upcoming polls in a number of assembly constituencies. Besides the controversy for ticket allotment, the BJP in Manipur also appears to be down with public detestation on the demonetization issue. However, there is no reason for BJP’s downfall in Manipur, if the state BJP leaders set the right agenda before the voters. At this critical juncture, the BJP leaders need to devise a different campaign strategy to motivate the voters with its development initiatives taken up by the Narendra Modi government at the centre. People should be convinced that economic growth in the state will be more viable when the centre-state relations are cordial. The general public needs to be convinced of the likely financial crunch in the state that may arise out of state-centre dichotomy when the BJP does not rule Manipur. Only the agenda of economic growth coupled with a pledge for minimal corruption and nepotism can boost the BJP’s prospect in Manipur in the ensuing general elections. It needs to make a pledge for rooting out corruption, bribery and VIPism which rated the fifteen years of Congress regime. Of course there is public apprehension at certain quarters that Manipur’s integrity may be affected when BJP comes to power in Manipur. However, it is also well established that such issues as Naga Integretation, Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Inner Line Permit System and the like have flourished for long under various regimes. No political party or no politician have sincerely attempted to solve even a fraction of the problem, and no party whether it is Congress or the BJP or any other, will do in future. Therefore, it is nonsense to presume that a particular political party will ever break Manipur. Everybody knows that the issues of Manipur’s integrity should in no way hinder the BJP’s prospect of winning seat in Manipur, because no politician in Manipur whether belonging to BJP, Congress or any other will allow the compromise of state’s integrity. State government, be it either under BJP or the Congress, will obviously defend the integrity of Manipur. It is time to think of economic development, rather than of other stray issues, which all the time haunt the Manipur society. The people of Manipur have witnessed for long that issues like AFSPA, ILP, Naga Integretation, so on and so forth are quite unfit to be election agendas, because every political party and every politician has set aside such issues after elections. So, people are now fed up with such household words in election manifestoes and election promises of our politicians. For the Congress, the election agenda is state’s Integrity and for the BJP, it must be economic growth with clean governance. At this hour the voters must also ask themselves two questions: Which political party – the BJP or the Congress, will be able to effect economic prosperity for its poor millions by establishing sustainable growth ? Which political party or political leaders is/are ready for maximum sacrifice, minimal bribery and corruption to bring about clean governance ? (The writer can be reached at [email protected])

Source: Imphal Times

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