Of each seal of people’s priceless votes


Rajendra Kshetri

Good morning Manipur!

This is Mark Antony speaking to the electorates of this golden land of Manipur – our ‘Sanaleibak’.

Though India could not emerge as a ‘developed’ country even after sixty-nine years of its independence, there exist in India a ‘highly developed’ state whose development indictors are out of this world. The nature and characteristics of development of this ‘highly developed’ state is such that even Asia’s newly-acquired status of developed countries Japan and South Korea could not hold a candle. Development has reached its zenith. It has no rival. It is a different kind of land – “Sanaleibak Manipur/Chingna Koina Pansaba/Chingmeena Koina Panngakpa” (our golden Manipur/ encircled by hills/Protected by hillmen)

People’s government(s). The post 1949 government(s). The post 1972 government(s). Our popular Ministry. Our MLAs elected by every single seal of people’s priceless vote(s). The MLAs and the Ministers whose constant concern for people’s welfare and development have robbed them of even a wink of sleep and rest. Thanks to their efforts and endeavours, the people of “this Golden Manipur” are today very developed. Very prosperous. For instance, for purpose of potable drinking water, there is no need to have authorized/unauthorized connections. People have been elevated to such a developmental level that they can afford Acqua- Mineral bottles. There is no need for the connection to reach the courtyard/kitchen. So high was/is the level of development that by simply digging a hole somewhere near/inside the main gate, water can be pumped through a pumping machine. It is alright if water did not come daily or even for a couple of days. People have been trained/taught and enabled to keep water storage tank at every household for purpose of buying, storing and using water. By the people’s government! Government of we, the people – the common man.

I remember reading someone somewhere who wondered whether Manipur’s electricity is electricity at all! Why man! The condition of electricity in this golden land of Manipur have improved as never before. It is no longer those bridal days of the erstwhile princesses of yore. Now people’s joy and happiness know no bounds and are so contented that getting no power daily is very normal. A non-issue and nothing to fuss about. Why
! We all have been enabled by our own “honourable” MLAs to buy generator and generate our own power resources. We all should be so proud that we have been put in such a high pedestal where we can buy candles and kerosene to lit light. All thanks to the “more-than-deserving-honourable MLA’s” who get themselves elected by each priceless seal of the common (wo)men’s votes. The-we-cannot-disrespect-MLAs have contributed so much to the improvement of power scenario that today everybody in the state, irrespective of literate or illiterate; gender and age have learnt the English word ‘load-shedding’ by heart. This indeed is very big achievement of the government – our government. So developed is this land – development of a kind not existed in the (her/his) story of (wo)mankind. This is Manipur. Our government’s golden Manipur. Come on man! Let us be a tad generous and large hearted. It is perfectly alright if power is diverted to the neighbouring states. Even if the same is not given to this golden land of Manipur. This is the land of jewel – sparkling all over and all along. What and where is the need for power?

Who said the price of essential commodities in the golden land of Manipur is incredibly high! No, it cannot be said the prices are steep high. It is just that prices of onions and potatoes a kilo have reached or almost touching the fifty rupees mark. All that talk of making rice available at two rupees a kilo by NT Rama Rao of yesteryears in Andhra Pradesh were all gimmicks and gibberish. Since his people were so poverty-stricken that he promised them rice at two rupees. It was as simple as that. Wasn’t it?. The fact that an increase in onion’s price by a mere twenty five paise in Delhi have stirred people’s unrest and even felled governments simply means that people are so ‘rural’ and rudimentary. That the Delhites are so poor and famished. That Delhi governments have not mastered the art of serving the people. Such things happened in Delhi because unlike our government of this golden land of Manipur, Delhi government have not been able to make its people rich. Our government – this government of golden Manipur have done wonder for the common man – making us millionaires. Isn’t that the reason why we all can afford to buy and make a living? Isn’t that the reason why we, the common men, continue to languish as obedient and subservient subjects. Come to think of it, had it been some other ‘undeveloped’ places like Bombay and Delhi, wouldn’t hell break loose, people run amok and government fall? No! It is not the ‘done thing’ here – our golden land of Manipur. Government cannot and must not be made to fall. There is no such thing as ‘government falling’. Government can only be made or formed. Isn’t that true how lovingly, tenderly and touchingly we, common people, have been served and looked after by our honourable MLA’s of this golden land. Wasn’t it their concern for people’s welfare that they made pilgrimage trips to Delhi every fortnight, attend Delhi durbar, deliberates with Union Ministers unmindful of whether they eat or sleep. It is all for the sake of their most obedient people of golden Manipur.

January 7, 1985 was just another one more day in the month of January. Nothing important happened that merits the attention of our “more deserving-than honourable” MLAs who were elected by every single priceless seals of people’s votes. It was just a simple incident of 9 ordinary lives. Our ‘honourable’ MLAs are busy serving 18 lakhs of people. Why should they feel sorry and have any sense of bereavement when nine ordinary people lost their lives. But of course ex-gratia of rupees twenty thousand each would be dished out and had been dished out.

The post-January 9/February 16, 1995; February 12 and 22, 2000; February 14 and 21, 2002; February 8, 14 and 23, 2007; and January 28, 2012 stories ! What a bunch of fabulously wonderful stories! All scripted and edited by the so-obedient electorates of this golden land of Manipur. Don’t they – the ‘honourable’ MLAs whom we, the common people, made what they are by our own priceless seal of votes – exhibit extraordinary love and concern for the common masses? Why doubt their sincerity and commitment for the masses! Our government, our popular Ministry loves us more than ever. Didn’t they dole out hundreds and thousands of those ‘five hundred and one thousand Gandhis’ on those fateful days in the electoral history of golden Manipur. What governments! What Ministries! So respectable! So fashionable! Something worth emulating by such ‘underdeveloped’ governments of Bombay and Delhi.

The post November 2, 2000 story. The story of a ‘wonderland’. The story of ‘Malom Massacre’. The story of militarization. The story of Anti-AFSPA crusade. A story that produced a never-heard-before phenomenon. The Sharmila Phenomenon. Yes, the post-November 2, 2000 story. The story of economic blockades/highway bandhs/ curfews – counter-curfews – public curfews/shut-down-total shut-down/sit-in-protests. Thirty /forty rupees a kilo for common salt, fifty/sixty rupees a litre for kerosene, hundred/two hundred rupees a litre for petrol, two thousand rupees for a LPG – cylinder. This is not the price-list of a shop. This is the true story of a ‘wonderland’. This is not the fairy tale of, Lewis Carrol’s “Alice in Wonderland’. Nor is it the travelogue of Jonathan Swift’s’ “Gullivers’ Travel”. Nor did it constitute a frame of a larger picture of the erstwhile Soviet Union where people holding ration cards in their hands, used to stand in que for endless hours for a mere kilo of salt, onion and potato. And yet, this too is the story of a ‘wonderland’. The very real story of a wonderland! Of our golden Manipur!. ‘Little paradise on earth’!. No one could even think of writing the story of this ‘wonderland’. Not even VS Naipaul of the famed “An Area of Darkness”. Ours is too intricate and too intriguing a story that a couple of persons, even if they put their heads together, would find it difficult to write. For the story has been intertwined and interwoven by the best minds of this land. So for every five years we, the people, have been writing by casting our priceless seal of votes. We did this for our own ‘honourable’ MLAs so they all could read and enact the drama so beautifully crafted on the stage of golden Manipur.

And how can we not add to these incredibly incredulous stories the latest series of untold stories. The story of Separate Administrative Arrangement’. The story of ‘Inner Line Permit and Three Bills’. The story of ‘Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee’. The story of ‘Homelands’. The story of ‘Sports University’. The story of games government plays. The story of games people play. The story of games civil societies play. Manipur! Yes, this golden Manipur. Our very ‘wonderland’. Certainly not the wonderland of Alice. It is the exclusive domain of the ‘honourable’ MLAs – the babies of People’s priceless seal of votes. It is their ‘EI – Dorado’. Not ours. And why should we, the people, be angry if we do not get a slice of our share in the very wonderland that we built and construct? Why! For us, we, the people, could always make a ‘wasteland’ to feed the empty stomach. Could we, the people, the common man, become Mark Antony?. Had it been so, wouldn’t have Brutus’s fate not fallen on our ‘honourable’ MLAs a long time ago?.

Come February 2017. Let people stamp, once more, their priceless seal of votes. The people’s government have not finished serving “we-people’. There is still unfinished task left. Our “honourable” MLAs are still committed and have not shied away from caring, loving and developing us further. Let us therefore elect once again the ‘we –cannot- disrespect’ MLAs. Let us leave once more the fate of this golden land of Manipur at the safe hands of our “honourable” MLAs. Those hands that are as safe as those of Eknath Solkar.

My dear people! All my people! People of this golden Manipur. Be quiet….. Silence…. Our “honourable’ MLAs are courting ‘Delhi Durbar’. Engaged in talks…. dipped in Delhi over serious, very serious matters. To bring….. to fetch, more gold to our golden Manipur. And so, let us stamp one more time our priceless seal of votes. Each one of those priceless seal of votes….. To install people’s government. To stand tall as citizens as befitting loyal and subservient subjects of our great golden government.

Come February 2017 – the first two weeks to be precise – we, the people, shall continue to add to the glory that was/is Manipur. We shall stamp, without fail, our priceless seal of votes. We shall toil tirelessly for this ‘wonderland’. For the comforts and benefits of our ‘honourable’ MLAs, if not for us. It is not that our ‘more-than-honourable- MLAs’ love we-the people’ and ‘this land of golden Manipur’ less but that they love their families ( not excluding near and dear ones) more.

So you all have been caught off-guard (or is it wrong-footed) by the November 8 Master Stroke of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Having sleepless nights over the demonetization of five hundred and one thousand notes! Or like a hungry Jackal, waiting for the new two thousand rupees notes to pounce on! To buy the electorates! The ‘honourable MLAs’ have not done anything wrong. They are not wrong. They shall not be wrong. They are all ‘Honourable Men’.

Games MLAs Play! Games Electorates Play

(Rajendra Kshetri, is Professor of Sociology at Manipur University, Imphal and can be reached at aardhikshetri@gmail.com)

Source: The Sangai Express


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