JANADESH 2012 - Manipur Assembly Elections Ramifications and Stratifications
By R S Jassal
Poll punditry, arm chair psephology, swings, trends and anti-incumbency analysis are all history – until another time. The results of 10th Manipur assembly elections have proved the exit poll predictions of a hung assembly fallacious. The ‘Palm’ has been upheld with Indian National Congress (INC) sweeping 42 Assembly Constituencies with a thumping majority and other political parties such as MPP, CPI, NPP, SS, BJP, RJDs and independents, literally razed to ground zero, with AITC at 7, MSCP at 5, NPF at 4. This has prompted exit poll experts to reflect upon as to why their predictions have gone haywire.
The exit poll conducted by a group of Political Analysts and Advisors hosted by the Centre for Study of Developing Societies(CSDS) had predicted ruling party bagging at the maximum 24 to 32 seats, AITC- 7 to 13, MSCP, CPI, NPF & independent conjointly getting 10-18 seats and Anti-Congress alliance termed as Progressive Democratic Alliance as 5 to 11 seats. CSDS had also tagged CNN-IBN & The Week, with their findings, so psephologists and pundits were impelled to put their sense of prediction on hold. The pre poll happenings had also swayed the State intelligentsia to keep mum and watch the Pandora’s box only to unfold on 06 Mar 2012 which put INC at the highest pedestal ever since 1972 against all prognostications.
Factors which Affected the Electoral Situation.
Boycott call of Cor-Com, hurling of hand grenades, exploding of IEDs, Kidnappings, burglary at Party offices and sporadic killing of supporters of INC and some odd supporter(s) of other political parties like MSCP did overtly create a fear psychosis amongst political workers both, targeted & to some extent non targeted too. On the top of it media published bulky lists of supporters of INC to be targeted even after elections for their continued support if any candidate won.
Creation of Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA) consisting of MPP, NCP, RJD(U), RJD and CPI was carried out at a very belated stage of the election process, which created quandary amongst even the intellectuals that probably PDA was looking for only political mileage without any progressive hope for the State. Other than RJDs, all other parties had integrity of Manipur in agenda so tilting on the support of NPF somehow to oust INC had its own effects on the voters.
Further, the creation of a grand alliance with tacit understanding of INC and MSCP that too at the last moment despite the fact that MSCP was considered as a sister party floated by the CM of Manipur in shadow dealings, without any Common Minimum Programme (CMP) was no more a secret even to the common man. INC landed in “No speak mode” and announced they will align with AITC and NCP for Government making.
Naga People Front (NPF), a United Naga Council (UNC) sponsored party desperately tried to align with many political parties against INC, overruling and setting aside their own manifesto in which their main plank was to work towards bringing all Naga inhabited areas of Manipur under one umbrella, openly understood and restrictively projected with Rio’s group of party of Nagaland. Further excessive use of Nagaland’s leadership and their resources created ripples amongst valley politics and those groups of Nagas and Kukis who were against breaking of Manipur integrity. This resulted in the over confidence of NPF, PDF and grand anti Congress (INC) alliance. Also, breaking away of CPI from SPF Government at the last moment and projecting anti congress coalition emerging as a potent viable option left the electorate confused.
Effect of these factors on the State
All these factors affected the situation without any external direction but internally it was ‘free for all’ threats and intimidations. Each group of Political Parties started assuming self win-win position which considered masses as cursed into unlawful binding. The results showed entirely different trend, unexpected and undirected, just like self - eruption, which can be categorized as follows:-
(a) NPF performance from any angle may well be said “taken as referendum on Nagalim”, winning four seats against 12 and except in Karong and Mao, the winning percentage is much lower than what has been garnered by other non-NPF Naga winner candidates. It will also affect on UNC’s bid to alternative arrangement lying pending with the Government of India.
(b) In the valley, despite Cor-Com’s diktat and active interference as also shadowy Maoist - Marxist - RPF connections, the verdict has gone ahead the way it is. Stalwarts like Shri Radha Binod (NCP), Shri Th Chaoba Singh (MPP), Ex Minister, Shri Ph Parijat (CPI), Shri O Joy (MPP) and many of his ilk falling flat like uprooted poles after a hurricane. Some non performing sitting MLAs from all parties were also brushed aside: Can this be said to be a replica of plebiscite wanted by Shri R K Meghen, the UNLF chief? Can this be taken as a screen shot of what can actually happen if Plebiscite is resorted to? Examine the voter’s trend from Hills and Valley both for sake of Hill-Valley unity.
(c) Healthiest sign – Fragile Politics: The voters of Hills & valley alike which included this time, voters of 18 years age and above, have now a mixed mind on both issues of Plebiscite, Nagalim and violence.
This is probably the healthiest sign of maturity shown by voters in both hills (including Kukis) and valley. They can not be taken in easily by slogans, “My Land, My Gun, and My Sovereignty”. All the sixty Honourable MsLA irrespective of party affiliations will be taking solemn oath to the Constitution of India as have been doing since inception of first elections to the State assembly.
Should INC Go Complacent?
Yes, it is tricky. This magic number may weigh very heavy for its 42 members to carry the weight of their pledge to voters and the party. There are limited numbers of portfolio for Ministers and a few number of Chairman Posts which have attraction of possession. Can the CM whosoever he or she may be have the gumption of holding this flock of wise 42 together for full term? A tough task for the President, INC who has to undertake frequent tours of Manipur.
No-Fear of Guns
In the fine end, the general voters have proved their “No-Fear” factor, denounced diktat of Cor-Com and separatist forces , have exercised their franchise the way they liked, and no one else but the democracy stands the winner. This does not mean that no malpractice was resorted to in the voting process. The deduction from this assessment is that if people go courageous and firm up their mind as to what they want, they being the grassroots can usher in a new chapter of change- pave the way for development and force the rulers to grant them good administration. They are now questioning about accounts of expenditure, utilization of NREGA and other Government funds and voicing against custodial deaths and fake encounters. They have also taken note of erstwhile insurgents under obligation of Suspension of Ops (SoO) and Ceasefire (CF) agreements and are questioning as to why some of them operate outside the confines of their designated camps and involve in extortion and any other nefarious activities. In the current milieu the synergy between the civil administration and the Security Forces (SF) is at its peak. The SFs have delivered commendably in providing and ensuring a secured environment for polling and also preventing armed interference in the polling booths during elections. The People of Manipur have delivered their verdict in favor of secularism in democracy which is loud and clear. They are showing maturity in self governance under constitutional norms and with this speed Peace is not far off.
To conclude, the CSOs and Frontal organizations need to crystallize their policies of criticism and role in moving developmental activities forward and meet challenges of corruption, extortion and violence which are eating into our vitals. Ruling INC is also cautioned to change its perception of leaving any project incomplete. Imagine what would have been their position if Non Congress Alliance had really come to power. They must settle all contentious issues facing the People of Manipur one by one. The Author sincerely sympathizes with the losers and congratulates the winners.
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