The people of Manipur are being asked to cast their votes on 28th January to elect, yet another time, the members of the State Legislative Assembly, within the conditions of fascistic rule by the central armed forces.
The writ of the central armed forces prevails on the streets of Manipur. Uniformed armed men enjoy license to kill on mere suspicion, under the protection of the colonial and fascist Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
Even when all the members of the state assembly have unanimously demanded in the past that AFSPA be repealed, it did not happen because the central army command did not agree. The ruling power in New Delhi did not agree. This was clear proof that it is the dictate of the central state that is being enforced in Manipur. The elected state assembly and its civilian administration are mere puppets and instruments of central dictate.
What are the people supposed to vote for in this election? Are they supposed to vote for the continuation of colonial and fascistic army rule? Are they to choose which party will do the dirty job of perpetuating these intolerable conditions?
The ruling class of our country constantly turns the truth on its head when it comes to the political situation in Manipur. The official propaganda from New Delhi is that army rule is allegedly necessary because the majority of people in Manipur do not accept the Indian Union and its constitution. By demanding their right to self-determination, they are allegedly threatening the “unity and integrity of India”.
Manipur existed as an independent political entity well before the British colonial conquest of the Indian sub-continent. The people of the Imphal valley and its surrounding hills have a proud history of refusing to be colonised and ruled by others. They had established their own political state and constitution when the Nehru government virtually imprisoned the Maharaja of Manipur and forced him to sign a so-called Merger Agreement in Guwahati.
As far as the people of Manipur are concerned, the constitution of the post-colonial Indian Union did not end colonial rule. Alien rule has continued to be imposed on them through the force of arms. Is it any wonder that the people do not accept this condition of remaining colonised and being deprived of even those political rights granted to the majority of Indians?
Resentment among the people of Manipur emerges from the very condition of being deprived of political rights. It emerges from the condition of being victims of economic backwardness and extortion by official and unofficial armed men.
Perpetuation of fascistic army rule and denial of the right to self-determination are the source of the problem. There is widespread opposition to this illegitimate authority. The central state paints such opposition as a threat to the “unity and integrity” of India and uses it as an excuse for continuing its fascist rule.
The security and wellbeing of the peoples of our country, and their mutual unity, arenot threatened by the people of any nation but by the rapacious greed and imperialist ambitions of the big capitalists who control political power in New Delhi. The outlook of the ruling class, headed by the Tatas, Ambanis and other monopoly groups, towards oppressed nations and peoples within India, is no different from that of the British colonialists. They care only for territorial control so as to maximise plunder for private profits; and are ever ready to trample on the rights of nations and of individual human beings. They have further sophisticated the art of “divide and rule”, setting different nations and peoples at eachother’s throats. The people of Manipur and the other states of the north-east are a victim of this policy.
Elections have been held numerous times in the past, without addressing the root cause of the problems in Manipur. They have only served to perpetuate the status quo and give it a veneer of legitimacy.
Those who are striving to liberate Manipur from national oppression and inhuman conditions of life and all those who care about human rights and dignity, must remain focused on the central issue. They must not get diverted on any pretext. They must preserve and develop their unity around the most immediate demand, which is to permanently repeal AFSPA and end army rule, returning all troops to their barracks.
Building a united and secure India requires a fundamental break from the existing Indian Union, which is constituted on colonial foundations. Only by reconstituting India afresh on new foundations, as a voluntary union of consenting nations, nationalities and peoples, can the problem of national rights and the unity of the peoples be resolved.
The working class and the peasantry together make up the vast majority of the population in every part of our country, within every nation, nationality and people. Workers and peasants must constitute the nation in each case, and such workers’ and peasants’ republics must unite to form a powerful voluntary union of India. Every nation, nationality and people will voluntarily join such a union and defend it because of the benefit it brings to one and all.
This is the vision of the modern Indian working class, which is multinational and multilingual in composition. This is the vision that is reflected in the program for the Navnirman of the Indian state, being championed at this time by the Communist Ghadar Party of India.