Manipur Election 2017: Disenchantment with the system could be reason for tie between Congress, BJP

Democracy could either spoil you for choice or leave you with no choice, just like neutrality isn't as much a result of confusion but a rejection of two sides that one perceives as equally imperfect. The Congress and BJP are neck-to-neck in Manipur, both have won more than 20 seats each till now (at the time of publishing this article). From 1992 till 2015, 2,248 civilians, 2,763 non-state armed rebels and 984 security personnel were reportedly killed in Manipur. Last July, the Supreme Court held that the allegations of excessive force resulting in the death of any person by Manipur Police or the armed forces in Manipur must be thoroughly enquired into. It was also held that even while dealing with the 'enemy', the rule of law would apply.

The bench was considering a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India by Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association and the Human Rights Alert. In this case, the petitioners claimed to have compiled a list of 1,528 extra judicial executions carried out by the police and security forces in the region; despite several complaints, not a single first information report (FIR) has been registered against the Manipur Police or the security forces.

Okram Ibobi Singh. AFP

Okram Ibobi Singh. AFP

The bench also held that the particular situation of internal disturbance has prevailed for decades and the ordinary citizens of Manipur have had little access and recourse to law. "It is in the interest of the government to keep the region deprived of electricity, education, employment, so there is instability and violence that justifies the need for Afspa," says Binalakshmi Nepram, who started the Manipur Gun Survivors' Network in 2007.

Ever since the BJP has come to power in the Centre, she says, over 90 visits by central ministers have taken place. Some days ago, Amit Shah made the statement that if the BJP comes to power, its first task would be to end the indefinite economic blockade and all efforts will be carried out to make the state free from bandhs and blockades. Since 1 November, trucks carrying supplies to Imphal were stopped at National Highway 2 and 37, which are the valley's lifelines. "Aren't all national highways under the charge of the union government? If they had to do something, they would have already," says Nepram.

She goes on to say that the people of Manipur want development too, but not at the cost of excessive corporatism that depletes its resources and isn't equitable for its people. There are 39 ethnic groups in Manipur and imposing Sanskrit on them or homogenising their breed of Hindu faith is another fear in the Manipuri's mind.

The Congress is no saint either. According to statistics compiled by Human Rights Alert, a spike in extrajudicial killings was noticed soon after Okram Ibobi Singh took over as chief minister in 2002. What started with 90 killings in 2003, reached its peak in 2008 with 355 dead in hesitant encounters.

Irom Sharmila, once an symbol of people's pride, has secured zero seats. "While her sacrifice and intent has earned the love and support of the people of Manipur, her decision to join politics has made her lose that charm of being an icon and an inspiration. Also, mere months aren't enough to prepare her to take on the chief minister; lakhs are pumped into the campaigns of big political parties."

Last year, HRD minister Smriti Irani wrote a reply to a Rajya Sabha question saying that overall, the annual average dropout rate at primary level has reduced from 5.6 percent during 2012-13 to 4.3 per cent during 2014-15. But, in Manipur, the drop-out rate is 18 percent.

A general disenchantment with the system could be the reason for a tie between two national parties.

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Mar 11, 2017 17:26:15 IST

Also See