All eyes are now on the second phase election. Even as the readers read this commentary, voters would have started getting ready to proceed to the polling station to cast their votes and it is interesting to note that voters will vote along diametrically opposite agenda. So while issues like the territorial integrity of Manipur will definitely play an important role in making up the minds of the voters in say, Thoubal AC, Wangkhem AC or Khangabok AC, the question of Naga integration will be an important deciding factor in say Ukhrul AC, Mao AC, etc. A reflection of how deeply divided the people are along the idea of Manipur as a geo-political entity. This is where the role of the Naga People’s Front (NPF), which has made its stand clear on the Naga integration issue, becomes all that more interesting. To be certain, the presence of the NPF will be felt in all the Naga dominated ACs and with the Congress boycotted in the Naga dominated districts, it is not surprising that many see the election in the Naga dominated districts as a stand off between the NPF and the BJP. This should however not be taken to mean that the Congress will have no say in the Naga dominated ACs for remember there are still a number of sitting Congress MLAs from the Naga dominated districts, particularly Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam from Nungba AC and Parliamentary Secretary Victor Keishing from Phungyar AC and Deputy Speaker Preshow Shimray from Chingai AC. Making it more interesting is the strong presence of the BJP and it remains to be seen if it can make a debut from one of Naga dominated ACs in this year’s election.
Interesting equation and making it more interesting is to see the presence of the Chief Minister O Ibobi (Thoubal AC) and Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam (Nungba AC). Also very interesting to see that the second phase of the Assembly election will witness a father and son duo contesting in the person of the Chief Minister and his son O Surajkumar contesting from Khangabok AC, the seat vacated by his mother O Landhoni Devi. To the media based outside Manipur, Irom Sharmila has been a subject of immense interest and significantly she is also there in the second phase, contesting against the Chief Minister at Thoubal AC. More than clear that all the ingredients are there to make the second phase poll spicy, but not very clear how meaningful it is to the people. A look back at the first phase should also tell its own story. Did the people really vote with an eye on where to take the State forward to in the next five years or did they all fall prey to the publicity stunt of the political parties and the candidates ? The answer will perhaps be known only after results are announced, but it is important for all the voters to question why this election should be so deeply polarised and who or which political party is responsible for the deep divide between the different communities. This is one way to make the election more meaningful.
Source: The Sangai Express