Performance of the Congress Party in Manipur during the last six decades of India's republic is satisfactory enough to award a ministerial berth to its members of Parliament.
The Congress Party has been maintaining its popularity in Manipur
for most of the time since independence and the state’s merger into the Indian Union. In the first, second, third, seventh, tenth and fourteenth Lok Sabha elections, Congress party got one seat each out of the two Lok Sabha seats of Manipur, while the party managed to get all two seats of lower house in the fifth, sixth, eight, ninth and eleventh Lok Sabha. Indian National Congress (INC) held the lone Rajya Sabha seat of Manipur from 1954 to 1978 and from 1984 to 1990. It has been holding the seat since 1996. At present all three MPs (two in Lok Sabha and one of Rajya Sabha) are from Indian National Congress.
Veteran Congressman Rishang Keishing is a rare personality who is politically well-acquainted and experienced. Indian National Congress might have acknowledged his contribution to Indian politics by honouring the 92-year-old Rajya Sabha member from Manipur with a ministerial berth. Keishing was a member of the first Lok Sabha and is the lone surviving leader, who continues to be a MP. The MP from Manipur initiated the discussion in the Rajya Sabha when it recently celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Indian parliament.
The veteran politician born in 1920, was elected to Parliament as a Member of First Lok Sabha in 1952-1957 and 1957-61. Keishing, who completed his graduation in 1949 from St Paul’s Cathedral College in Kolkata, entered politics as a fire brand socialist with Jaiprakash Narayan’s Socialist Party and won his first Lok Sabha seat of Outer Manipur in 1952. He came back to the third Lok Sabha in 1962, once again from the Socialist Party. He was the Chief Minister of Manipur thrice, from November 1980 to February 1981, from June 1981 to 1988 and from 1994-97. Later, he was elected Rajya Sabha member in 2002 for the first time, and in 2008 at the age of 88 for the second time. Rishang is presently the Members of Committee on Food, Civil Supplies and Public Distribution; Committee on Commerce; Court of the North-Eastern Hill University; Committee on Home Affairs; Consultative Committee for the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways and Committee on Public Undertakings.
Dr. Thokchom Meinya Singh, present MP from Inner Manipur Parliamentary constituency, is a well qualified congressman elected for two consecutive terms. A former minister in state government before election to Lok Sabha, Shri Meinya also deserves to get a ministerial berth in Union government. However, the political leaders of Congress Party have neglected Manipur in considering for ministership.
The strategic position Manipur holds and unique contributions it makes in sports
and arts are satisfactory enough to pay importance to this border state. Both the people’s talents as well as stronghold of the Congress party have considerable contributions to India’s political and cultural arena. But, it is questionable whether Manipur politicians are unfit to be union ministers? Very young and inexperienced MPs have been upgraded to ministerial positions in the last reshuffle, while veteran leaders devoted to party politics for lifetime have been neglected for unknown reasons.
Is Indian politics based on heredity? Are lifetime contributions made by experienced Manipur leaders like Rishang Keishing not counted for they are not born in Gandhi families? Is it because their fathers and fore-fathers have not been in Indian political hierarchy? During the last 65 years of independence, Manipur’s loyalty to the Congress Party has been great in contrast to states like West Bengal, which believes in communism. It is questionable why Manipur has been left out of the congress ministry? National party’s neglecting Manipur will further widen the existing gap between the north easterners and the mainland Indians.