Failing to capitalise on the 2012 mandate Unflattering sobriquet


Tough to say how history will remember Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, but the record will stand. After the Congress managed to emerge as the single largest party after the 2002 Assembly election, it has been going from strength to strength and today the man from Thoubal Assembly Constituency has managed to script a sort of history, occupying the chair of the Chief Minister for the third consecutive term and thereby becoming the man with the longest stint as the Chief Minister of the State. In the process Okram Ibobi surpassed the record held by Rishang Keishing as the longest serving Chief Minister of Manipur. The question is whether Ibobi has been able to give a new definition to what is universally understood as political stability. In the 2012 Assembly election, Ibobi enjoyed such a positive feedback from the voters that the Congress managed to bag 42 seats out of the 60 Assembly seats. Not only this, the strength of the Congress grew to 47 after five MLAs who were elected as MSCP candidates joined the Congress enmasse. So in effect the Congress had 47 MLAs (two Congress MLAs, Y Erabot and N Biren have resigned, but this is besides the point) in the House of 60 and the natural question is whether the Congress Government has been able to take any tough decision so far. This brings to mind the ongoing economic blockade imposed on the National Highways by the United Naga Council, against what it has termed the move of the State Government to grant districts status to Sadar Hills and Jiribam. The dithering continues. This is not a case of batting for the demand to grant district status to Sadar Hills and Jiribam, but rather a commentary on how the State Government has been fiddling its thumbs on an issue (Sadar Hills) which dates back to at least three or more decades.

Weak-this is the sobriquet which the JAC for Sadar Hills has used while describing the State Government and there is nothing to gloss over this. So while the present Government stands exposed as weak and unable to make up its mind and take tough decisions, it has to be admitted that the Nagas have demonstrated far sightedness in dealing with the issue. Take a look at the reality. MoUs may be dismissed as nothing more than plain papers on which signatures are appended, but these can still be referred to as history worth looking back. It was in line with this that the Naga civil society organisations managed to extract at least four MoUs from the State Government. The first MoU was signed between the Government of Manipur and ANSAM on December 14, 1981. Another MoU followed on November 10, 1992 between GoM and NSF and yet another on September 27, 1996 between GoM and ANSAM and UNC on the other. Another such MoU was signed in the summer of 1998 between GoM and ANSAM and UNC. All the MoUs mentioned that no decision to upgrade Sadar Hills to the status of a district will be taken without consulting all stakeholders. This was not all for in 2011, the UNC managed to extract an assurance from the Union Home Ministry that Sadar Hills will not be declared a district, without consulting all stakeholders. A case of the past haunting the present, and amid this it is disheartening to note that the Congress Govt has not been able to capitalise on the massive mandate it received in 2012.

Source: Sangai Express


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