For quite some time, Manipur had hardly seen political leaders in the news, as was done prior to May 3, where one watches their faces every day in the local TV channels. With the events of the current crisis overtaking their thought process and their ability to comprehend, they have the sense to keep quiet.
Nothing wrong except that they are supposed to lead the people in all circumstances and if they are not able to do so, the best is for them to quit. But no politicians worth their salt will quit as they think the world of themselves and for them their survival in the tumultuous world of politics is the priority. Once they quit they may be in political wilderness.
After the failure of the MLAs to come to an understanding in New Delhi with the Youth of Manipur due to the absence of the chief minister; those from the ruling parties had perhaps decided to come out more in the public domain to ensure their relevance.
The Opposition MLAs have all along been making the right noises though without any result due to their limited number. The meeting of two cabinet ministers, one Kuki and one Meitei at the VIP Lounge of Guwahati airport made headlines in some local newspapers. Such meetings were considered not newsworthy earlier but now during the conflict, it is real news. Nothing wrong in that as communication between the two communities is essential to bring about an understanding, and such meetings should be encouraged.
What transpired nobody knows, but it is clear that as the two Kuki Ministers are attending matters through the e-file system, they must also be in communication with the CM. If they are making themselves scarce, as there is joint responsibility, the CM will have no option but to drop them. The refusal to drop them indicates that they are in communication with the CM.
The mobilisation of different groups in their Assembly constituencies by the MLAs or their supporters to drum up support of the government, started by the CM in his constituency with the slogan that there shall be no change in the leadership at this juncture as it will lead to President’s Rule to counter the demands of various groups for a change as the present government is an utter failure, have perhaps embolden most.
The only misrepresentation is that change of leadership does not necessarily entail PR. It can also mean a change of the CM, which the present CM will fight tooth and nail as it may mean his own political doom. Some of the MLAs who were active during the start of the crisis in managing relief camps in their constituencies but had then remained quiet, even to the extent of hiding in Delhi, had come out now telling the people that they are doing their utmost to bring normalcy.
CM was reported saying that efforts were already on to have a dialogue with the Kuki and he even claimed that he is still popular with them despite the efforts of some illegal immigrants on the contrary. Hope his statement is not a wishful dream but a reality as it will pave the way for a rapprochement.
The tragedy is some MLAs still could not grasp the complexity of the crisis resulting that any issue raised was answered that he will be in touch with the CM to redress the matter. At this juncture, there is a need to provide leadership in one’s constituencies, which some are doing while some are just incapable.
While visiting the various relief camps, some camps are littered with waste indicating very lax and incompetent management. One reason may be the fatigue that may have set in among the volunteers managing the camps. As many of the camps are run with the largesse of the MLAs, they should visit more frequently and ensure that proper hygiene is maintained. Some camps are neat and clean and those accommodated in such camps are found to be in a better mental frame.
Some are so dirty and stinks with stagnant water and plastic waste everywhere and the management team must ensure that weekly cleaning is held with those staying in the camps under their leadership. Running such camps is no easy task and the belief that giving some money for the same and with the government subsidies it will run on its own is out of sync with reality.
The recent viral video of a person who was burnt was clarified by the Security Advisor who wants the matter to be handed over to the CBI that the incident happened on May 04, even mentioning the name of the victim. An FIR reportedly had already been lodged and it is for the government to take steps to hand over the investigation to the CBI to ensure neutrality.
The visual is disturbing and condemnable. There is a tendency to leak disturbing videos now and then when things seem to settle down a bit, which enflamed the emotions. Who benefits from the continuation of the crisis through leak of such disturbing videos need a check; and suspicions were expressed whether some unscrupulous people are selling such videos for their personal gains, without considering the likely impact on the society.
After a long time the security advisor had come out to speak in the public domain. His statement that operations to recover the weapons looted from the police armouries is a step which has been anticipated though there have been negative responses from the public in that these weapons are for defending the villages from attacks from the other community and that such operations must be carried out in both the hill and the valley. For the valley, demolition of bunkers along the hill becomes a priority as pot shots are taken from there towards
Meitei villages. The government must ensure that it takes all initiative to protect the life and property of all the people as enshrined in the Constitution and in the event of the failure to step down and pave the way for a better alternative. It is absolutely ludicrous for the common man to take up arms to protect their lives and those of their near and dear ones and properties.
The happenings in Manipur indicate a failure of the law and order machinery despite reinforcement of a large number of central security forces personnel. However, change in government now is very unlikely as this would have happened in the first week of the start of the crisis and GoI ensures a proxy government which can take all the blame which is exactly happening now. How the combing operation will impact the armed groups and vigilantes in both the hills and the valley needs to be seen as it can be a turning point in the crisis.
The state government issued an advisory not to rename any village or names of habitations but in Churachandpur and Moreh, it is going on merrily. When Thangjing was referred to as Thangting in the official orders, what more can be expected. Even though the naming was done during the Congress regime, the correct name should be brought in the official documents through a cabinet decision and specific orders.
Mistakes must be rectified. So is the use of the term Lamka or Zo which must be avoided in official documents and releases. Once Zo is accepted then the concept of Zomia will also follow much to the detriment of India and Manipur. Similarly, meeting, assembly, sit-in protests, etc are banned in the valley districts even during the curfew relaxation period and permission must be obtained for such activity. One will have to wait and watch whether this order can be enforced or whether this will lead to further conflict between the government and the people.
Some political leaders are threatening to file PIL for action against the 10 Kuki-Chin MLAs for their demand for separate administration. MLAs swear in Form VII B under Schedule 3 of the Constitution where there is no mention about the sovereignty and integrity of a state but rather it incorporates the country. Former MLAs hankering about this only show their lack of knowledge and their incompetency and their desire to be in the news.
Political leaders, including the MLAs will continue to be under pressure from the general public despite their claim that they are doing their best to bring normalcy as there is no evidence in the public domain of the steps taken up by them. They ought to walk the talk and inform the public the steps taken except for those which are held in secrecy. With time the pressure which seems to ease a bit now can suddenly mount on the MLAs possibly with violence.
(The views expressed are personal)