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Profitable stand-off

By   /  January 9, 2017  /  Comments Off on Profitable stand-off

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It is another election year in Manipur and as earlier ones indicate, the whole state is being made one big arena for intense politicking that have touched communal lines. Okram Ibobi Singh, the three time chief minister of the state is looking forward to enhance the fortunes of his party, the Indian National Congress party in the coming elections for a fourth term. Many commentators agree that the policies of dividing the people has kept him in office for so long. The Naga issue and the current Peace Talks being the main reason since it threatens the territory of present Manipur and this is used as the main plank by the Congress. The economic blockade led by the United Naga Council is currently in its second month and there are no signs of any relaxation. The leaders of the UNC are still under custody and have been denied bail.

Some have gone up to the extent of stating that though the people completely dislike the Ibobi led government for the current levels of corruption in the state, extra-judicial killings and overall style of governing the state with the heavy hand but when the issue of the territory comes to the fore the voters ultimately vote for the Congress. It is alleged that the Congress party can somehow use the divide in the state to its maximum advantage. A big chunk of the population that comprise about 60 percent are from the valley and it has a total of 40 seats in the house of 60. This is another reason for the tribal population that they have been left out by successive government in the state resulting in negligible development as compared to the valley.

To add to this plot, the government in August 31, 2015 had passed the Protection of Manipur People’s Bill 2015, the Manipur Land Reforms and Land Revenue (7th Amendment) Bill, and the Manipur Shops and Establishment (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2015. The tribal community reacted to the three bills immediately with alleging that the bills were anti-tribal, it led to the death of 9 protestors. This was at a time when the agitation for implementing Inner Line Permit had greatly intensified in the valley since its start that also resulted in a few deaths. The coming together of the tribals who stood united against the three bills were however short lived . The government first did not send any representative to the ongoing tripartite talks between the Nagas and the Manipur government with the Ministry of Home Affairs as the third party which was scheduled to be held in November. Instead the Manipur government announced the creation of 7 new districts in the first week of December, hardly 2 months before the polls and it intensified the UNC led blockade. There are apprehensions that the creation of Kangpokpi (Sardar Hills) which Nagas claim as their ancestral lands will lead to more communal tension between the Nagas and the Kukis yet again.

From the time the extension of ceasefire between the GoI and the NSCN(IM) was announced in 2001, the political fortunes of the Ibobi led Congress party have increased and it has never looked back. His current move of creating new districts is also considered as a political masterstroke much to the chagrin of the BJP led centre. However, as indicated by all these events, the government is intentionally playing with the lives of people and however justified its reasons may be it might end up breaking up what it professed to protect in the first instance.

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