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As 'lotus' blooms in Manipur, will the Naga issue be solved?

ANI  |  New Delhi [India] 

[India], Mar. 15 (ANI): The 'lotus' has bloomed in Manipur, India's far eastern state bordering Myanmar.

Nongthombam Biren Singh was sworn-in today as the first (BJP) Chief Minister of Manipur, brightening the chances to break the economic blockade in the state, solve the Naga issue and finally bring the peace in & both.

Contrary to pre- and post- poll predictions that the would come back to power by securing a majority, the formation of the has come as a total surprise to all.

The bagged 21 seats. The Naga People's Front (NPF) and the People's Party (NPP) with four MLAs each supported it. Besides, one each of the All (AITC), the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and independents also supported it.

The had been in power for three consecutive terms.

No one believed when Prime Minister Modi said the will form the next in Manipur, because till the last Assembly elections, the presence of the was so nominal in the state that the party had hardly fielded any candidate.

However, things started changing first after the BJP's ascension to power at the Centre in 2014 and then after its stunning victory in Assam in 2016.

The leaders supported by the dedicated team of senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionaries and workers scripted a dramatic turnaround of fortunes in the North East, which has been a traditional stronghold of the party.

In Manipur, president Amit Shah had assigned one of its senior leaders Prahlad Singh Patel to achieve the goal of forming its first giving him a very challenging task.

Patel, a Member of Parliament from the Damoh Loksabha Constituency in Madhya Pradesh and a former union minister, is known for his organisational skills. He had surprised everyone in the party by mobilising support of lakhs of labourers of unorganised sector in the past and was subsequently made the President of "Asanghatit Majdoor Sangh".

Working on the guidelines given by Ram Madhav, one of the RSS's finest strategists to repeat Assam in Manipur, Patel, a member of the Executive, camped in Imphal for nearly two months to muster support for the party and achieved it brick by brick.

One of the major challenges for the in was the lack of senior political leaders in the state, which was fulfilled by pocketing several top leaders of the such as N. Biren, Y. Erabot and O. Chauba Singh. With anti-incumbency at its height after a 15-year rule, led by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, the strategists milked both dissent within the and the anti-incumbency factor till the last drop and got the desired result.

The got the votes of Hindu population, which is heavily concentrated in the Bishnupur, Thoubal, Imphal East and Imphal West districts of valley where Hindu majorities average 67.62 percent (range 62.27-74.81 percent) according to the 2011 census data.

The Hindutva Party successfully made its base among the ethnic Meitei group of valley, which consists of 58.9 percent of the total population of Manipur, about 41.4 percent of them profess Vaishnavism school of Hinduism, which became a dominant force in the state in eighteenth century when the king, Garib Niwaj (1708-48), declared it as the official state religion.

The Manipuri Hindus profess Vaishnavism of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Bhakti preacher of Bengal, which stressed on Krishna Bhakti. However, a large minority of Meitei people practise Sanamahism (traditional Meitei religion) and Christianity.

Manipur, once described as the 'Jewel of India', was a Union Territory till 1972 when it became a full-fledged state. It has a population of two major groups - the people who inhabit the hills are called the Nagas and those who inhabit the valley are called the Meiteis. The hills are also inhabited by the Kuki tribes.

In 2012 Assembly elections, Ibobi Singh-led party had got sweeping victory in bagging 42 seats also because the opposition was divided. But this time, the successfully built an anti-platform by getting on board leaders who have popularity of their own but had fallen out with Ibobi Singh. This included Heingang N. Biren Singh, who was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the first BJP-led in today.

A level footballer turned journalist turned politician and a former minister from Manipur, N. Biren was on Monday unanimously elected the leader of the legislature party. In October 2016, Biren had resigned from the Legislative Assembly and the Pradesh Committee, this came after revolt against Chief Ministers of Okram Ibobi Singh.

Interestingly, on the Naga issue, the was banking on the strategy which the thought would be disastrous for the saffron party and did well in the valley, where the was hoping to reap the benefits of economic blockade by

All Nagas in the state, under the banner of United Naga Council, have declared the political severance of ties with the then existing of in 2010.

The party could not gain much support in the valley even after its allegations that if the came to power, it would compromise the territorial integrity of the state and the party is hand in glove with the Naga Council (NNC) which sponsored the crippling economic blockade to protest against the bifurcation of the districts in the Naga-dominated hills.

The party, which has blamed the "false promises of the BJP" and militant outfit Socialist Council of - Isak-Muivah (NSCN (IM)) for its poor performance in the state election, actually failed in its strategy of bifurcating the hill and thus create a division between the valley and the hills which has 70 and 30 percent of the seats respectively.

This year's poll results saw another excruciating lesson in Irom Chanu Sharmila, the woman who gave 16 years of her youth fasting alone in her special prison cell in a hospital to fight for the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, AFSPA 1958, got just 90 votes in her contest against the Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh and was so humiliatingly dismissed from politics, which will be remembered for long.

Now, since the NPF has joined the with its four MLAs, the people of hope to get rid of economic blockade by the NNC and a more peaceful atmosphere for the all-round development of the state.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 15 2017. 16:14 IST
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