01 May 2017 | Last updated 12:19 AM

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Manipur may see an unstable government as militancy continues
Jatin Desai | Thursday, 16 March 2017 AT 10:14 PM IST
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Iron Lady Irom Sharmila failed miserably in her maiden entry into the electoral politics. She contested against the Congress leader and Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh from Manipur’s Thoubal assembly constituency. She ended her sixteen year long hunger strike last year. Her hunger strike was for the people of Manipur and other areas where Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is in existence. When she ended her hunger strike, she announced that she will take her fight to the political level.

In return, she got less than hundred votes. She stood fourth. Disappointed, she announced that henceforth she will not contest any elections. She faced many hurdles after she formed the People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA), a political party. Many of Irom’s supporters were not in favour of her contesting elections or forming a political party. She realised it is not easy to mobilise resources. She had to apologise to her supporters for the ‘misconduct’ of her fiancé. She has decided to get married to Desmond Coutinho, a Goa origin UK resident. He had criticised Irom’s supporters on social media.

Irom Sharmila must have realised that it is not that difficult to become part of civil society but it is extremely difficult to run a political party. Her decision to not contest any elections henceforth is as surprising as her decision was to form PRJA. She said, “I will stop contesting in elections, as I am really fed up of it. But, I will help PRJA to survive.”

Congress has emerged as the single largest party by winning 28 out of 60 seats. But, BJP has emerged as a solid force by winning 21 seats. In the last assembly elections held in 2012, BJP could not win even a single seat. Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF) won four seats similar to last elections and Naga Peoples’ Party (NPP) also won four seats. NPF has announced they will support any non-Congress coalition. The party reiterated its stand to rid the region of Congress.

Both Congress and BJP were trying their best to get support of NPP and an independent candidate. Congress needed three seats to form the government in Imphal and BJP needed ten. Congress relied on Trinamool Congress MLA and an independent. But they failed to receive support from the two parties and hence they failed to form the government. NPP is not a
direct part of NDA but they are part of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), formed by Assam Finance Minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswas Sarma. NEDA had pledged alliance to NDA at the Centre. Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has also won one seat.

BJP has an alliance with NPF in Nagaland though they contested against each other in Manipur. With the support of NPP, their coalition reached 29, and with support of LJP, they reached 30.

Accommodating 10 MLAs will not be easy for BJP. They have adjusted with the ministerial positions and some other ‘lucrative’ positions. In such a scenario, role of an independent MLA will be most important. But, the question now is how stable will be the newly formed government?

In Manipur, the valley has 40 and hill 20 seats. The dominant Meitei lives primarily in the valley. BJP had made significant inroads among Hindu Meitei. But, Naga Accord or the Framework Agreement took away sizable votes from the BJP. The agreement with National Socialist Council of Nagaland (I-M) was signed in 2015 and has been kept a secret. Meitei feels it may have to do with the territorial integrity of Manipur. PM Modi tried to remove the fear prevailing among Meitei community through his public meetings. But, it seems he failed to convince the Meitei community.

Ibobi Singh played his cards well. He was facing anti-incumbency as he was CM for the last three terms. Just before elections he divided districts to gain political mileage. He also tried to get maximum benefit from the blockade imposed by United Naga Council (UNC) and NPF from November 1 against the decision to carve out new seven districts. Centre blamed Ibobi Singh government for the continuation of blockade saying it is a state subject. Ibobi Singh blamed Centre for not doing enough to remove blockade.

The issue of militancy continues to disturb life in Manipur. The people of Manipur are in favour of repeal of AFSPA. With the defeat of Irom Sharmila, the demand for the repeal of AFSPA will, in all probability, become weak. It is clear that the newly formed BJP government with its alliances in Imphal will not be stable.

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