I pen the facts below just to put the record straight, clear and clean. I confess, the issues focused on are largely personal and yet with far reaching implications from people’s perspective. Hence, I may be forgiven for the space taken on public domain. Many including true well-wishers, even some church leaders have questioned my political intent/integrity for having gone party jumping on as many 3 / 4 times. Yes, in the on-going conventional political climate, I do accept being one without principle when weighed on conventional standards of opportunism. I request all concerned kindly to bear with me as I attempt to take you through sequential situational facts that evolved over the last 9/10 years after my retirement (Oct 2009). When I took the call on public service 9/10 months into my retirement, my will and intent was to crusade against the conventional politics that I saw thriving on ‘transactional personalized cost: benefit ratio principle’ to the exclusion of principles of justice, equity, honour and dignity. Hence the following:
- Convinced to the core of unrelenting hegemonic stranglehold of the valley over the hills, I readily said ‘Yes’ to the UNC’s call (may 2010) to spearhead the ‘Alternative Arrangement’ – a prelude to severance of administrative ties with the govt. of Manipur. Went hammer and tongs on the issue as mandated by the Naga public, Manipur (01.07.2010) the seriousness of which was readily acknowledged with positive response from the GOI at the highest level to find solution through a formalized mechanism – ‘Tripartite Talk’. Swift momentum gained in the first six months beginning with our 1st meeting (14.09.2010) with the then HM P. Chitambaram was to soon flounder and dissipate into nothingness. How and Why so? Is a skin-deep mystery pointing essentially towards ‘Nagas virus’ of ‘one upmanship’ at the altar of ‘ego- chasing’. Found myself like a fish out of the water and hence I quit (Oct. 2011).
2. Call came from Kohima (nov 2011) asking me to join the NPF as the working president, Manipur. I readily accepted on firm belief that the NPF, in terms of ideology and principles, was what I was passionate about. Formally inducted into the party in presence of the CM N.RIO and the president Shurhozelie L at Senapati on 07.01.2012 – giving me just 20 days before the Manipur assembly elections (28.01.2012). With absolutely no experience/knowledge of electoral battles, I went straight inside the ring, armed with total loyalty/commitment to the cause the NPF stands for. Indeed, hard work amidst highly questionable conduct of some party leaders paid off by winning four seats for the first time.
Came like a bolt from the blue, appointing me the president, NPF, Manipur (20.06.2012) but only to be snuffed out by a lightning strike to make way for Lt. Soso Lorho only three days before my installation at Senapati ( 07.07.12). Fine-tuning of my team’s installation programme (07.07.2012) was graciously presided over by the CM and the President. But once again Nagas virus of ‘one-upmanship’ did all the tricks to vitiate the entire exercise.
I gave a damn to ego-chasing and shamelessly stayed on as the working president. Based on objective and dispassionate analysis of relevant issues at stake, I took a conscious decision to join electoral politics. Accordingly I went about in right earnest as early as Oct 2013 with whatever little resources I have marshalled in my 36 years of govt. service on the ‘why and how’ of my decision to contest the parliamentary election 2014 (outer). The three fold rationale for the early start being: the constituency’s size is huge; I was a total stranger and most importantly likelihood of party ticket was pretty high.
All came to naught despite strong spontaneous recommendations in my favour from all the party’s functionaries (frontal and districts). Suddenly, Lt. Soso Lorho popped out as a rival candidate after having encouraged me all the while. Added to it was a classic Nagas standard of justice by placing him (being a rival candidate himself) on the three member Search Committee. No matter how weird and unnatural, power to us awaits to be exercised only to satisfy insatiable ego. NPF by all counts owns the name of the Naga people, but disowns the truth of the name – never showing up in action and on principle. Yes, I found the only door open was ‘quit’.
3. The next sojourn for me was the BJP (May 2015) for the only one compelling reason being: BJP was going to capture power (fair or foul) for the first time ever, post 2017 assembly elections purely on the strength of the party having captured absolute majority at the centre (2014). My sole intent was to go to the assembly to stake our just claims upfront for unequivocal redressal. I would go there fully armed not with riches, neither with intellectual prowess nor with physical strength (none of which I have) but surely with the Truth and our Constitutional Rights. The state party’s leadership having sized me up for what I was up to left no stone unturned to deny me the ticket but to no avail. Then they did everything under the sun to block my campaign funding from the party; here they succeeded to a considerable extent besides being hand in glove with those elements within and without to defeat me. Well, the result showed the inevitable. I found myself reduced to a ‘persona non grata’ in the party with only the strength left in me to go crying in the wilderness. Quit was the answer.
4. I joined the Congress (INC) January 2019 in anticipation of strong chance of contesting the parliamentary election 2019 on the party’s ticket. My sole motivation was to secure a constitutionally legitimate political platform for the tribals at Delhi, to have our voice heard and heeded to. Regretfully, Manipur’s version that occupies its entire space in Delhi is what goes from Imphal – based entirely on their tastes, standards and interests. Tribals who account for 46% of the state’s population and the hills accounting for 90% of the land are at complete discount thanks to our public platform holders whose presence is never felt and whose voice is never heard beyond Imphal. Despite all positive indications forthcoming (all in presence of my trusted colleagues) party leadership, in the final call, could not withstand the heat and the charm of conventional pressure in whatever form.
In the backdrop of the above, I conclude thus:
- Yes, I have party jumped but in doing so I was motivated entirely by urgency and absolute necessity to secure people’s platform for the people and in no way, was I driven by self-centric pursuit of name/fame and riches.
- No illusion whatsoever, that I am the panacea to all the ills/problems afflicting our society. Given my human frailties, infirmities and failings, I would be one ever ready to match up upfront with the enormity of challenges and responsibilities as public platform holder. Never would I be one running away from owning up to blame and responsibilities for my wrongs.
Thanking you all and God bless.
Sword Vashum. Retired additional deputy comptroller and accountant general. Views are personal.