In the run-up to state assembly elections, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has finally cracked the whip on the deeply entrenched state bureaucracy, although it remains to be seen whether the recent shakedown in district administrators and district police would be able to provide a level playing field so as to ensure free and fair poll. Fifteen years of undisputed rule is no mean feat, which could only mean a firm control over the bureaucracy. The bureaucrats on election duty, whomsoever they may be, would always look over their shoulder before they contemplate any action on election related complaints or controversies. As a part of the bureaucracy, they also keenly observe the winds of change that might come or the likely results of the ensuing elections. The bureaucracy lay their ears on the ground and keeps their noses high on the air to feel and sense the issues which will drive home the electoral gains and the ultimate birth of a new government. A lingering question on every bureaucrat’s lips is whether Okram Ibobi Singh is bouncing back for a fourth term or will he go the Tarun Gogoi way as in neighbouring state of Assam after an uninterrupted term of term of fifteen years. They could also sense that Manipur’s case is different from that of Assam. Manipur’s bureaucrats are not different from others elsewhere. They tend to always work or perform at the whims of their political masters, even if they sometimes get caught in the corruption scandals while their political masters get away with the loot. In such a scenario, any bureaucratic overhaul would tend to end up as cosmetic. The Election Commission of India somehow seems to have a wrong perception that posting non-Manipuri bureaucrats instead of local men would create a level playing field in the ensuing assembly elections. In the last assembly elections, the ECI even change the state Director General of Police with a non-Manipuri IPS officer. Yet, the Okram Ibobi Singh led Congress government came back with a bang and with more numbers under the belt. It does not simply understand how the politician-bureaucrat nexus works out here in the state or for that matter how Okram Ibobi Singh’s mind works. The chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh takes under his wings any new bright and enterprising non-Manipuri IAS officer and grooms them for the future as Secretary to the Chief Minister. Once they are ready, they are posted in different important positions while keeping them in the loop. For fifteen long years, he has been able to outwit all his political rivals with his own style of Machiavellian politics. So, it is an easy job for him to manipulate the bureaucracy to whims. Anyone who wants to challenge him or play the game of chess with him must understand this first. Otherwise, Okram Ibobi Singh will always have the last laugh. Look at his scorecard. He has left the NSCN(IM) and United Naga Council fuming and in a dilemma with the creation of seven new district in a single stroke of the pen in a midnight drama, while also putting the challenger BJP on the defensive. He has another card in his sleeve. He has started pushing the envelope for banning the UNC, as the High Court has begun rolling up its sleeves for incorporating the UNC in the case against the ongoing economic blockade.
Leader Writer: Irengbam Arun
Source: Imphal Free Press