A spell of strong showers had made the mud road very slippery. That there was little light at that late hour made it worse. Same is right wing politics in Manipur. Ram Madhav of RSS who is National General Secretary, for North region, but hardly has any ground level knowledge of those region or state. Okram Ibobi Singh government might be corrupt but we cannot neglect the fact that the new joiners in Manipur BJP once broke bread with him. They are misguiding Ram Madhav on many fronts, but none of the BJP head is interested to check the reality. If this continues and seat sharing goes inappropriate, then BJP might face defeat in Manipur.
As these days BJP’s Narendra Modi targeting Congress in his every rally, his party workers too is following the same in every state. The issues on state level are different and BJP workers need to identify and address them on ground reality. Recently in a public meeting One by one, a number of local BJP leaders were introduced to the women by a party worker from the locality. They each gave a small speech. As the meeting progressed, a number of men crowded around the doorway, listening intently to each word.
BJP MLA categorically asked the people, when did your MLA (Akoijam Mirabai Devi from Congress) visit you last? Why is it that you don’t get drinking water even though you live in the Imphal West district, so close to the capital? Why is there no concrete road here? Why no streetlights for you? No drains? Do you get any BPL (below poverty line) family benefits? When did you last get rice under Antyodaya Anna Yojana? Did anyone of you get benefits under the Indira Aawas Yojana? How many of you are still in waiting list? Why don’t you get all these facilities when these schemes are meant for you? How long will you keep quiet?” BJP’s councillor from Patsoi Chungkham Bijoy was just on attacking mode but he was not open to the people to speak. This where BJP loses, they never give ear to public or take direct feedback, they just attack the rivals and leave. Its high time people need someone to listen to them, and hope BJP realizes it.
Manipur is the constituency of more women than men, trying to reach out to as many women voters is not easy, and if you don’t pay attention to their grievances, she will surely not vote for the party or its leaders. Though the assembly elections in Manipur are about few months away, the BJP has been electioneering in the state for some months now. At the heart of its canvassing are these small meetings. These meetings are as much to canvass for the elections as to build the party’s base among people. BJP is new in the state and they have to be much more conscious while dealing with voters. The other local party leaders and workers have been holding small booth level meetings, particularly in the valley districts, with the two-pronged agenda of “educating” the voters about the party and picking booth level workers. Everyone is trying hard to influence the people of the region. What has helped BJP to attract more people to the party in such a short span of time in Manipur is also that the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) workers have been working in these areas for some years now. On September 14, BJP president Amit Shah held a meeting in Imphal, there were reportedly about 30,000 booth level workers attending it. Most of them have joined the party through such colony meetings.
Recently, Joykishan left Trinamool Congress, a Congress ally joined BJP just before by-elections. He won the Thangmeiband assembly seat for the party. Yet another former TMC member, Thongam Biswajit Singh, won the Thongjui seat for the BJP. Much to the joy of the national leadership, they helped the party debut in the Manipur assembly. In the 60-member house, BJP now has two members while the ruling Congress has 48 members. The stakes are obviously high. After the party’s rousing win in Assam early this year, it has now set its eyes on making Manipur “Congress mukt”.
The signs, so far, have been good for the party too. After making inroads in the by-elections, BJP won 62 of the 278 municipal councils in January this year, another first. (Congress got 108 seats.)
The state BJP got yet another favourable message this past June. In the Imphal municipal corporation elections, BJP – again for the first time – grabbed ten seats (it won just one seat last time) while 12 went to Congress (14 earlier) and five to independent candidates. The party is hoping the anti-incumbency faced by the three-term-old Congress government will bring it the required numbers to form the next government in the state. But Congress is still strong in some pockets. While Congress is well entrenched in Manipur, BJP is still building its base in the state, mostly by borrowing leaders from other parties. So it is to be seen in coming times whether voters ignore that fact and go only for the party. Also, in Manipur, winning an election has a lot to do with money power. However, the BJP is also getting increasingly aware of the need to engage in some other “burning issues”. In the last few months, overtly or covertly, it has been addressing some issues. Take for instance, the street protests demanding the government introduce the Inner Line Permit (ILP), as wanted by people living in the valley districts, and a tacit support to the demand of the hill people for more autonomy.
With the battle lines drawn rather sharply between two archrivals, it is a tough call for the state’s voters. However, it seemed easy for politicians to choose sides, a least some young ones. Many budding politicians who have joined the BJP seemed to be driven by the belief that BJP under Modi “encourages young leaders”. In coming times more Congress leaders may want to join BJP. Many have expressed confidence that the BJP will come to power in Manipur after the 2017 polls. Let’s see how smart BJP moves here.