Sleeping with the Enemy!
REGARDLESS of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders announcing during their campaigning for the just concluded Manipur Legislative Assembly elections that the saffron party will not have pre-alliance with the Naga People’s Front (NPF), in addition to stammering when posers were raised on whether it would strike post-poll understanding with the Nagaland-headquartered political organisation, the four NPF MLAs have eventually turned out to be important players in the formation of the new BJP government in Manipur. With the BJP falling short of getting the magic mark of 31 MLAs, having the NPF and other non-Congress political parties on board has become inevitable for the BJP to stake claim for its maiden stint in the corridors of power in Manipur and administer smoothly at-least for the next five years. Taking into account of Nongthombam Biren, the newly appointed Chief Minister, asserting that top priority will be accorded in lifting the over four-month long economic blockade in the state, either the NPF legislators will have to take the leading role in ending the protracted siege along the two national highways or serve as goodwill messengers and convince leaders of the agitating United Naga Council to resume talks with the new BJP government. Since November 1 last year, the UNC has been blocking the two lifelines to protest the creation of seven new districts by the then Congress government.
If there is any substance in the claims made by political leaders, that of Congress party in particular, during the acrimonious campaigning that both NPF and UNC are merely executing agenda and decisions taken by the rebel Naga outfit – NSCN (IM), then the new CM is definitely heading for a torrid time in crossing the first serious hurdle, which is the economic blockade. As the UNC is unlikely to cede from its demand that the decision to create the new districts should be rolled back as well as the likely upheaval that might be created in case the new government disapproves the new districts, the BJP-led government will be facing a tricky situation of keeping the NPF MLAs on its side, mollifying the UNC and not to upset the people who are residing in the new districts. It needs no explanation that the UNC has been harbouring the idea of unifying all the Naga-inhabited areas in the north eastern states and Myanmar under a single administration, which technically means bifurcation of Manipur and redrawing the map. Significantly, chief minister N Biren is among the political leaders in the state who has been vociferously opposing the demand for Naga integration. For the record, Biren along with former MLA RK Anand took the pledge in a public event some years back to uphold territorial and emotional integrity of Manipur at any cost. Therefore, having the NPF has an ally is akin to ‘sleeping with the enemy’ for the new government as any decision that do not conform with the interest of the Nagas might result in the NPF legislators rocking the boat.