Facts and rhetoric
With a view to garner maximum votes, candidates and their supporters were saying things which normally they would not have done. Truth is the victims and it is very difficult for the voters to even identify what are the facts and what are the fictions in all these jumbles. Even the issue which people were agitating recently have been thrown out from the limelight though MANPAC and STDCM continue with their demand, bringing out their views and requesting the voters to choose those who support their claim. But all other demands seem to have been sidelined.
The claim that the candidates for a party are criminals have not been repeated, perhaps realising belatedly that it is false and one cannot be called a person criminal till he is convicted. Such charges are defamatory in nature and the maximum one can be called is an accused in a criminal case. But the best is from the partners of the government who traded charges in support of their candidates. The minor party which did not put up a candidate but promised to support the candidate of the main party in the Inner Constituency, in all respect may not support due to the acrimonious utterances. Whether it will have an impact on the government after the election is over, one have to watch and see.
When the so called “Look East Policy” was framed, there was a seminar on the matter at Hotel Classic with Central Government representative, I then working as a Commissioner in the state government expressed my doubts whether it is a policy at all and if so where are the policy documents and even charged that it is a mere slogan like “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ or “Garibi Hatao”. Then I had made the issue that it is a strategic move to connect the ASEAN countries with India to meet the challenges of the growing economic and military power of China, which the latter use indiscriminately to bring them under its influence. The one belt one road initiative is for everyone to see and all countries that were involved become subservient to China as they could not repay the loans taken; the classic example being Pakistan. Look East is now changed to “Act East Policy” but what are the differences no one, even those who are saying daily, could answer it as there is to reiterate no policy document and the building of the ICP and broadening of the road to Moreh which was started about a decade back is still not fully operationalised or completed. So is the rail line connecting Jiribam to Tupul and thence to Imphal, the completion date keep postponing and the proposed connection with Moreh may not happen in the author’s lifetime with the pace that is being constructed!
The canvassing this time is more negative than positive and perhaps the national leaders of the BJP feel that the former CM is the wall for the BJP to overcome to get both the seats of Manipur. This resulted in the national President focussing all his energy in attacking the former CM during his speech on 5th. His rhetoric is unlikely to cut much ice as the voters know much better than him as their knowledge of Manipur continues to be limited and just can’t talk much sense without a teleprompter. I continue to believe that hero worship in Manipur is much less as compared to the mainland region and national leaders canvassing are not cost effective.
There are positives and negatives of all governments and the balance which determines whether a government is good or bad. BJP avoid CAB in Manipur though a few local leaders continue to harp that it will not affect the state and to go through the provisions of the Bill. The question is whether they have studied the Bill properly and if so whether they understood the implications? INC stand is clear but not bringing in the CAB is not the complete answer; the two notifications of 7th September, 2015 and the one of 23rd December, 2016 must also be rolled back so that illegal aliens irrespective of their religion is treated as alien and not received with open arms.
I was wondering whether our leaders do not have even an iota of retrospection or introspection. Everyone in the government knows who brought in MDS to execute the works for renovation of Khuman Lampak Sports Complex or K-Pro to clean the Phumdis but one continues to harp as if he was totally free of any involvement. A person who now speaks of regionalism first became an MLA from a regional party, but joined a national party and now he shifts to a regional party and can one trust about the issue of regionalism when he speaks on the matter. It looks like political opportunism but it must also be realised that the said regional party is spoken as the B-team of the ruling party by many people for the present election. Perhaps this is also rhetoric but many people believed it due to the selection of candidates.
One of the important planks for the BJP is that earlier there was bandh all the times but now it is bandh free and then some policemen were given a free hand leading to fake encounters which is now stopped. The counter charge is that it was the BJP who instigated the bandh culture and whenever their party is not in power, such activities were carried out to destabilise the government and stops once they are in power. This is not only in Manipur but in other parts of the country reportedly. Regarding the fake encounters, it is the Rabina and Sanjit case and the 1538 cases brought up before the Supreme Court that put a stop and not due to any political party. If government is it that prosecution sanction is still to be accorded? This lead to AFSPA which was first promulgated as an Ordinance and then the law passed. The law was styled from the similar law promulgated on the eve of the Quit India movement; except that the power to search or even lead to death was given to a Captain then but to a Non Commissioned Officer in the present law. The recommendation of the Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee was objected to by the security personnel and they will continue to do so when any changes were proposed. For the sake of argument in favour of amendment, if rape was involved will the perpetrator be still protected under the garb of this law? Should not the law be amended to ensure that such extreme torture is punishable under the law? If the PM, FM or the RM were born in the north-east or J&K, they will understand the concern of the people of these regions on this law but alas they just do not realise the psychological impact of this law on the people of the Border States? Pray why does this law not imposed in the Maoist affected area?
Though charges of culpability of the government is made about the escape of an under-trial, there seem few evidence to believe as so; though there are serious flaws in the management of prisons and the guarding of under-trial or convict in hospital, which need immediate rectification. This should not be part of the election debate and must be acted upon professionally. There must be security ward in the hospital, the guards must be changed frequently to ensure that bonhomie is not created, medical advice must be screened by a committee so on and so forth. The interrogation method is still crude with beating and water-boarding the main tool. It was open secret that the interrogators in the JIC are bribed by the relatives of the victims to ensure that severe beating is avoided and even in the case of the recent custodial death of a suspended policeman, it is alleged that such bribe had been made. This is however subject to confirmation.
As a citizen of a democratic country, it is the hope that election campaign is conducted on a more positive note rather than trying to bring down the characters of the candidates and using harsh languages, which is hard to hear. On corruption, we as citizens are reconciled that all politicians are corrupt and it is only the question of degree. So talking about corruption does not have any meaning. It brings back nostalgia about the election in the early seventies though after 1977 the rot started. We are very fast in learning bad things but very slow in imbibing good things. I urge the readers to disregard the rhetoric and consider the facts before casting their votes for the future of Manipur.