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BJP ticket tamasha and aftermath in Manipur

While going through the list, it was very similar to the ones floated earlier in the social media which was denied by the party, indicating that the news was floated by someone in the know, perhaps with the ill conceived notion to soften the anger of those who were denied tickets.

ByRK Nimai

Updated 3 Feb 2022, 3:30 pm

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THE BJP candidates for all the 60 Assembly constituencies were announced on January 30 and as predicted there were violent reactions at many places from supporters of strong aspiring candidates. The party head office and district offices were, however, spared due to massive deployment of security personnel. If such an arrangement were not made, the result would have been disastrous. This made one wonder why the Thambal Shanglen was allowed permission in a site just opposite the Raj Bhavan, a highly secured zone, especially political party office entails grouping of large number of people and even conflicts.

From the candidates, it can be surmised that the RSS was marginalised in ticket distribution. CM’s say seems to have carried more weight.  Grapevine says that the delay is due to the conflict between the RSS and the party. On the other hand, despite claim that the BJP is different and is against dynastic politics allegations have been made, especially by some mandal members, that it is not so. While going through the list, it was very similar to the ones floated earlier in the social media which was denied by the party, indicating that the news was floated by someone in the know, perhaps with the ill conceived notion to soften the anger of those who were denied tickets.

The party spokespersons had time and again hinted that “winnability” is the most important criteria and taking this into account, many who had toiled for the party have been sidelined and new faces who had joined the party a few months or years have taken precedence; thereby causing serious heartburn. If the claimed number of members of the party is taken into consideration, almost all the seats in the valley can be won by the party. This is unlikely as many party members will not be supporting the official candidate as many have least interest in the party or politics but had joined due to cajoling from those members who wanted to be “active members”, by roping in 25 primary members.

One was a bit surprised when there are aspiring candidates in say Yaiskul or Andro where the claims of those given party tickets were very strong with one being a minister and other having ensured the formation and survival of the government. The conflict in Wangkhei between the BJP candidate and the sitting MLA is understandable but not the other. This indicates the naivety of many claimants on political matters. The announcement of Nishikanta in Keisamthong that he will contest as an independent seems a sagacious decision as his agenda is a bit different from others. Brinda of Yaiskul should have also gone solo rather than joining another party as her agenda is also different.

Serious aspiring candidates will have to contest either as independent or from other parties, lest he will be seen as indecisive and weak with no future in electoral politics. The JD (U), is becoming the “B” team, and got the maximum benefit and this party may have a few members in the coming Assembly. This party will be subject to manipulation as they are not only a part of the NDA but Nitish Kumar is the CM in Bihar due to the largesse of the BJP despite the fact that his party won much lesser seats than the BJP. NPP is also another party which benefitted and has the opportunity to increase its presence in the Assembly.  

Despite claims that the BJP is a cadre based disciplined party and the aspiring candidates will support the official candidate; this was sheer wishful thinking and nothing more than bravado. There is hardly any difference with the other political party, despite hoarse claims on the contrary.  In Manipur, voting is generally not on party line except for the committed party men, but on the candidates. The tendency though is to try to contest from the party which governs the Centre; a servile colonial mindset with a beggar’s mentality. This is common among almost all politicians and those joining the JD (U), Apna Dal (S), etc feel that in the event of coalition government, which is likely, they may get a chance to be ministers.

Those denied and had worked long in the party may have sympathy ripples, if not wave, which can impact the official candidates. While going around there is a palpable feeling of hurt in many areas with long time party members being denied tickets and giving to newcomers. Quite a few voters which this writer spoke to felt happy that a few chronic party hoppers were denied tickets and this should be a lesson to all of them in the future.

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From the claims of the disgruntled mandal members, it transpire that the claimed grass root level assessment of the aspiring candidates are nothing but a sham to hoodwink the people in awarding tickets to the chosen ones through nepotism. This indicates the undemocratic functioning of the party. Despite claims that so and so had applied for the ticket, the list contains one with a Dr preceding his name while he is not and another as Jiri Budhachandra. N. Budhachandra popularly known as Jiri Budha is the producer of the award winning film “Tilaikhombi”, and if they had applied, their correct name as appeared in the electoral roll would have been submitted and such snafu would have been avoided.

There are also a few parties, whose office bearers like to come out in the public domain, mouthing their views on any damn issue but could field only a handful of candidates or even none. Candidates of such parties were perceived to put up on the instigation of some candidate, no doubt on payment, with the hope to take away some votes of his opponent. They also try to stay in the limelight by announcing support to a particular candidate, without realising they can’t even provide a couple of votes! And candidates are happy like a drowning person trying to hold on even a straw.

In a few days, all parties would have announced their candidates and canvassing will start in a more focussed manner despite the restrictions imposed by the ECI due to the pandemic. This time the canvassing is subdued and once the party flags from the road side were taken down after the announcement of the election, it is as if nothing is going on. That does not mean that the restrictions are not violated and daily such violations occur and with all parties violating it, none were perhaps reported to the ECI.

Many moneyed people are in the fray and with illegal money financing many, there is likelihood of increased quantum being distributed. But all is not so simple now as many voters will take money from all candidates but vote as per their personal preference or even NOTA. Even though this is a priori wrong, many feel that this is the only way to teach a lesson on those upstarts and politicians with ill gotten gains that money is not all. The strategy now is to increase the number of distributors with each handling about 15-20 families. The former system of one person looking after 100/200 families is gone and trying to mint money by making cuts may not be as easy as it used to be. This is going to be more important strategy with the ECI imposing restrictions on mass gathering due to the pandemic.

Tension is likely to happen in a few ACs in the valley. This is particularly true in those ACs where the fight for the party tickets was intense and where some candidates feel insecure; thereby resort to threat and intimidation. It was not only surprising but funny when crackers were burst to celebrate the announcement of tickets as if their candidates have won the election.

Party tickets are like admission cards and are not the end all. The difficult task of winning the elections is still before them. In the hills, despite efforts to minimise the role of UGs in election, due to structural difficulties in most of the ACs they will continue to rule the roost and whosoever managed to obtain their support through lucre or otherwise has a much better chance of winning as there is no election but selection.

However, in a few ACs, the UGs may not be the sole deciding factor especially in ACs where there are towns or big villages with large population which can oppose the diktats of the UGs. Rumours have started floating that such and such candidates have reached an understanding with such and such UG groups. Despite strict instructions to those under SoO not to leave their camps, there are reports of canvassing support for specified candidates through mobile phones and henchmen and some cadres have also been apprehended with arms outside the camps, perhaps leaving the camps with election in their mind. This is the challenge in the hills for a free and fair election.

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(The views expressed are personal)

 

 

 

 

 

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First published:3 Feb 2022, 3:30 pm

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bjpcandidatesRSS

RK Nimai

RK Nimai

The author is a former bureaucrat, Imphal, Manipur

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