While the spring season is at its threshold, Manipur has many new happenings. Cheiraoba – the Meitei traditional lunar new year is knocking at the door. The members of the Sanamahism religion celebrate the new year as Sajibu Nongma Panba (Meitei Cheiraoba or Sajibu Cheiraoba). The lunar new year signals moments of joy and hope for a better year ahead. It is a day for cleaning the house, preparing dishes, offering of choicest cuisines to local deities, and climbing the nearest hill with an aspiration to ascend in various walks of life. After all, what is life without hope, growth and novelty?
Government’s new plans
The recently concluded twelfth Manipur Legislative Assembly election saw the prominent rise of the BJP with an absolute majority (32 seats). This signals a robust government for the next five years. The Chief Minister’s top three priorities for the new BJP’s government, namely – the eradication of corruption, drugs and insurgency, are a welcome note and new resolve. Expansion of roads in many parts of Manipur is indeed steering transformation and a sign of development. The new government’s initiative to begin educational institutions at 8:00 am and leave the afternoon hours for leisure and family time is a recent move. Hopefully, the government will create ecologically oriented parks and recreational avenues for the people with a minimum entry fee (or without payment). The government’s initiative for office goers to work from Monday to Friday will be a welcome message. Saturdays and Sundays will see fewer vehicular movements, thereby reducing carbon emissions. We wish the government the best to bring about social transformation and equal development in every nook and corner of 22,327 sq km Sanaleipak.
New things in Manipur Legislative Assembly
The rising number of highly educated people joining electoral politics is new. The fall of many veteran legislators is a sign that this generation needs something fresh and new. The rising number of first-time legislators in the Manipur Legislative Assembly is also new. The increasing number of young people joining as legislators of Manipur is something novel. The drastic decrease of Congress MLAs to just five is also a new development. The rise of JD (U) in Manipur is a new inning. The increase of NPP seats is recent good news. The newly formed Kuki People’s Alliance (KPA) winning two seats is also a new undertaking. Four women legislators, namely Smt. Soraisam Kebi Devi (BJP), Kimneo Haokip Hangshing (KPA), Smt. S.S Olish (BJP), Smt. Nemcha Kipgen (BJP) is a good sign of women’s empowerment and a new lease of gender inclusiveness. Two Kuki women MLAs in one Manipur Legislative Assembly tenure is also a new thing in history. Smt. S.S.Olish (BJP) from the Lamkang community getting elected in 41-Chandel (ST) Assembly Constituency is a new opening that even lesser community members can (and should) be elected as legislators.
Areas of concern
A government with an absolute majority in the Legislative Assembly appears steady. But ‘majoritarianism’ politics could hurt the sentiments of small communities residing in the state. The rising unemployment rate is an old thing needing new treatment. The rising bribe for government jobs, thereby denying deserving candidates (poor who don’t have money to bribe), is a cancerous trend needing complete transformation. The rising and costly trend of private tuition (coaching centres) is a concern and an impediment for poor parents. The gradual daily hike in petrol and diesel prices is a new thing – now taken for granted as a regular thing. While Manipur boasts of a favourable climate for various fruit-bearing trees, the exorbitant fruit prices in the market are disturbing. The causes may be – less fruit plantation, no proper storage facilities, unavailability of a minimum price tag for farmers, road transportation costs, etc. In many parts of Manipur, excessive deforestation is an existential concern endangering health and water supply.
While seeing new developments, new treatments to old issues are the hope and aspiration of the people of Manipur. When existential needs are met for the common good, peace, tranquillity, and social progress are but surely accompaniments. People are hoping to see new things in the days to come.
The author is a PhD research scholar, Department of Sociology and Social Work, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore, Karnataka, India. Email: email@example.com