The X factor: Wind of change in Manipur 

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11-year-old Tomthin, (name changed) who hails from one of the affected areas in Manipur violence, is unique and reveals a deep sense of anger and revenge motive. When he was asked to draw anything, he liked to sketch an armed miscreant. When asked who he was and why he (Tomthin) drew it, he said, “It is the enemy miscreant. When I’m done with it, I shall paste it on the wall and then tear it up into pieces with a pencil. When I do that, I feel relieved. I feel relieved because they burnt our house.” (DIPR report of September 2023)

THE ANNOUNCEMENT of BJP candidate for inner parliamentary constituency of Manipur caused jitters and flutters in the BJP circle. Rumours indicated that bigwig BJP leaders were shying away to contest from inner constituency. People perceived the delay in announcement as reluctance of prominent BJP leaders to risk defeat in the polls. Scramble for BJP ticket was missing exposing low level of confidence of its electoral prospect. The announcement sans jubilation and euphoria, from a party in power at state and centre, is an ominous sign. 

For the outer parliamentary constituency of Manipur, no one came forward for the BJP ticket. It was clear from the beginning that Kuki-Zomi tribe are disappointed with the BJP and would not favour the ruling party on account of the unresolved ethnic conflict. Even among the Naga politicians there was no takers for the BJP ticket. The slump in popularity of BJP in the hill areas became evident and compelled the ruling party to endorse Naga People’s Front (NPF) candidate. 

The Kuki-Zomi are lying low having witnessed first hand indifference and apathy of the ruling party in resolving the ethnic crisis. The Naga tribes, witnessed ill-treatment meted out to Kuki-Zomi tribal brethren vis-a-vis Meitei community and realised that the BJP would always favour the Meitei community over the tribals of Manipur. It is clear to the tribals of Manipur that the BJP would not stand up for their rights if their interest clashes with that of the dominant Meitei community. Undoubtedly the BJP has lost popularity in the Hill Areas. 

Although the Kuki-Zomi organisations have called for boycott of polls, there are signs  of reconsidering their stand. Answers are needed whether the boycott of polls would be advantageous. Those opposed to boycott may argue that their presence should be felt by voting since they represent a s

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