Manipur Elections: BJP Will Suffer Due to Lack of a Strong Leader

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi. (Photo: IANS)
Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi. (Photo: IANS)

It could well be a fourth term for the Ibobi-led Congress government in Manipur this coming March, for the sole reason of lack of formidable leadership in the BJP. Can the long-touted Modi wave win it for the BJP though? One can only be sceptical. Yes, Modi’s LPG scheme may have earned some goodwill in this northeastern state. Also the non-existence of a prominent state leader hasn’t stopped Maharashtra and Assam from dethroning a Congress government.But in a state that has been hostile to outsiders, so much so that the state witnessed a movement for the implementation of the Inner line Permit (ILP), to what extent will the Modi charisma work?And, will this valley-centric Congress government give way to the BJP in the hills and tribal areas?

Hurdles for the BJP

Then again, the BJP has always been a Hindu nationalistic majoritarian party. Its image could alienate the tribals who inhabit the hills of Manipur, most of whom are Christians.The BJP is also not clear on what they will do differently to resolve the issue of the current economic blockade.Luckily for the BJP, the state Congress hasn’t raised the issue of woes faced by people because of demonetisation.

Resentment Against Congress

On the other side, we have to acknowledge that the Kukis and Nagas – the two major tribes of Manipur that inhabit the hills – loathe the ruling Congress party.The Kukis may not forget for a long time the loss of nine lives at the hands of the Manipur Battalion in Churachandpur under Ibobi’s reign.Creation of seven districts in Manipur by the Ibobi Singh-led government was met with a relentless economic blockade by the United Naga Council.The hill-dwellers have 19 seats while the valley has 41 in the 60-member Manipur Legislative Assembly.The big question is, can the BJP win the hearts of people in the Hindu-dominated valley?

BJP Needs to Project a Strong Leader

The people of Manipur want a strong leader with proven leadership and not another puppet of Modi. The current leadership are novices. A political dwarf shouldn’t rule the state just for the economic benefits it will get from the Centre.

As for Irom Sharmila, there is no doubt that she fought a long and hard battle against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

However, to expect her to do both an Anna Hazare and an Arvind Kejriwal is too much. The verdict of the 2017 elections could well conclude that she was better off as a human rights activist.

Source: The Quint


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