Earlier this month, Manipur successfully held the 10th Legislative Assembly election amidst much uncertainty. Besides regular political parties like Congress, BJP, Manipur People’s Party (MPP), TMC etc. the political landscape is dominated by a range of underground groups (UGs). These armed insurgent groups through direct and indirect supports to the political parties aim to influence the political machinery with their ideologies to further their movement. Candidates and voters were intimidated through bombs and bullets with issuance of warning note, even their election campaigns prohibited. There were incidents of a party workers being shot for defying their dictates and candidates of a particular political party being ambushed.
For the first time in Manipur’s election history the election was held in the same day in both the hills and the valley with a massive deployment of security forces. There were reports of terrorists striking at some polling station resulting in the lost of precious lives of polling officers and security personnel. Re-polling was conducted at numerous polling stations due to violence, mismatch of photos and other variants of election fraud.
Going into elections, it was believed that the party which failed to gain the grace of the insurgent groups will be utterly routed. Interestingly the election results bucked this theory with the Congress returning to power for the 3rd consecutive term. The party won a landslide victory with a whopping 42 seats out of 60. The people’s verdict can be construed as the breaking a culture of silence. For long people remained silent in spite of all the atrocities and hardships perpetrated by the UGs. The election results, an unprecedented development in the face of uncertainty, speaks volume of people’s exhaustion with violence and an unwillingness to tolerate all sort of undemocratic activities.
The logical next step is for people to hold the government accountable and push for transparency. The Government has the people’s mandate but must not forget that those who put them into power also have power to pull them down. Blaming insurgency for development failures, as was done before, has to stop. We need to reclaim democracy through consistent people’s movement against corruption and injustice through creation of mass awareness.
There are only two choices: either we live in dignity or die in dignity. We can’t afford to live life with indignity and in captivity because freedom and dignity are our birth rights. We must claim them and strive for them.
- Hejang Misao