A requiem to Rishang Keishing Cutting across political lines

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Condolence messages from the who is who of the country. Cutting across political parties. The President of India, the Prime Minister, Governors, Chief Minister of Manipur, AICC president all have condoled the death of veteran political leader Rishang Keishing and this should underline the point that to many he was not just a Congress leader but a leader whose identity cuts across political and social divides. In his passing away, it was not only the Congress which has lost a towering personality and this is a hat which not every political leader can wear with such a distinction. To the present lot of political leaders, all with their own standing, Rishang Keishing will be a man to look up to, not only for his long innings in politics, but as a man of principle. It was this principle which stood by him through thick and thin and while his political detractors may say that he was not an original Congress man, the fact that he was the lone Congress man preferring to sit on the Opposition when the other elected Congressmen had switched sides in 2001, should blunt this accusation. Herein lies the unique characteristic of the man, a man who refused to go with the tide or be lured by the pelf of power but stood by his principle. Back in 2001 and before O Ibobi went on to be the Chief Minister for 15 years, it was Rishang Keishing who had the distinction of being the longest serving Chief Minister of Manipur, having occupied the chair of Chief Minister for over 10 years. Not only this, he entered Parliament in the first Lok Sabha in 1952 and topped this off by being the senior most Parliamentarian when his term in the Rajya Sabha ended in 2014.

Certainly not the most colourful political personality of his time, but Rishang will certainly go down as a man who had mastered or nearly mastered the art of political dexterity, which saw him outmanoeuvre many of his political peers and juniors. Remember back then when he was at the peak of his political career the 10th Schedule of the Constitution was yet to be enacted, which meant that horse trading and party hopping was a regular affair. Jumbo sized Ministry was the rule rather than the exception and it was through this tumultuous period, that the man from Phungyar Assembly Constituency went on to occupy the chair of the Chief Minister for over 10 years. No mean achievement by any stretch of the imagination and view this against the backdrop that no Government could last its full five year term back then and one will get an idea of the point that is sought to be conveyed here. In the passing away of Rishang Keishing, Manipur may have also witnessed the passing away of the last man of a generation of politicians for whom politics was not just a vocation. And when one talks about the grand old man of Manipur politics, one will certainly remember the colourful personality of the late I Tompok, the late Yangmasho Shaiza and earlier R Suisa and later the late W Nipamacha. To the present seniors such as Radhabinod Koijam, Th Chaoba, Y Erabot etal, Rishang Keishing will be remembered as a “political mentor, a person of historical connections and importance” as Radhabinod Koijam put it in a tribute to the late man in a Whatsapp salutation.

Source: The Sangai Express

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