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All’s not well for Congress in Manipur


Imphal, January 3: Many politicians in Manipur have a notorious record of floor crossing. In fact, the number of politicians who have not crossed the floor several times in their chequered political career can be counted at one’s fingertips. It is the budding politicians who have not had a chance to join some other parties and whose political behaviour is controlled by the Anti Defection Act that are sticking to their origil parties.

One local MLA had set a record of sorts by changing his political loyalty three times in a single day. In normal circumstances, chief minister Okram Ibobi should be a happy man since he has all the chances of becoming the leader for the fourth consecutive term. In the 60–member House, the ruling Congress has 48 members and the disparate opposition parties cannot make their presence felt. In the Hiyanglam by–poll, the Congress defeated the BJP establishing that there is no ‘Modi froth’, not to speak of ‘Modi wave’ in Manipur.

Deputy chief minister and state unite Congress president Gaikhangam Gangmei has been ridiculing the BJP leaders saying that since the mountains are very high in the NE region, the Modi wave cannot impact the region.

In Manipur, no chief minister could complete a full 5–year term. And no political party had secured two thirds majority in any election.

However, Ibobi is the first chief minister to get re–elected for three consecutive terms. This is mainly because of the Anti Defection Act and the fact that no Congress and opposition MLA has been able to flex muscles in the public interest. Incisive questions were stopped in the Assembly years ago.

Assembly sessions are held just three days or so with the opposition parties merely supporting the government bills. Public interest calling attentions are no longer heard in the Assembly.

It takes time for a political change to impact the voters in Manipur and some other NE states.

The Congress leaders were a bit buoyed when the party secured majority in the Mizoram Assembly at a time when the party was routed in other parts of the country. Even today poll results show that the Congress has been degenerated to a local party.

Past experience has shown that gradually the voters are aware of the political changes. That is why Ibobi had recently said that he was having sleepless nights in view of the successive electoral defeats the party is suffering elsewhere in the country.

The 5 MSCP MLAs who had joined the ruling Congress in hope of getting political loaves and fishes are disillusioned. There is no scope of their being inducted in the council of ministers. In fact, they are being treated as ‘second class citizens’ and the party rank and file do not treat them as out–and–out Congress members. On the other hand, the aspirants for the ministerial berths have become convinced that they will be never become ministers in the remaining two years of the present ministry.

The commitment made by Ibobi at the time of swearing in ceremony of the third ministry was that he would reshuffle the ministers after two and a half years to induct fresh MLAs. Though they had agitated for some time, Ibobi is having the last laugh and these aspirants remain as mere MLAs. Sources indicate that they are happy with bones occasiolly thrown by the chief minister and other ministers.

But what has become clear to one and all among the Congress MLAs is that the party shall never come back to power after the next elections since the wind of political change already here. Many of them are reported to have started looking for their next political anchor. It will not surprise people if there will be few takers of the Congress ticket ahead of the next elections. Manipur has been witnessing such a situation in case of some political parties. The state unit leaders are going to pay a heavy political price for the wrongs done like trying to perpetuate dystic rule in the country.

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Ankur Kalita

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