Taking the people along : Litmus test for SHDDC

Taking the people along : Litmus test for SHDDC

The Sangai Express Editorial :: September 05 2011

A map showing the boundary of Sadar Hills


Posted 05 September 2011, by Editor (The Sangai Express), E-Pao!, e-pao.net


One very interesting point that has emerged from the stable of the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee is the central role that seemingly sits pretty on the crown of the public. How the public respond to the responsibilities that come along with this crown is a matter of conjecture and something only time will tell but this is something noteworthy.

The public meetings held at different places in Sadar Hills during the last few days is a text book prescription on how to take the public along with a movement, no matter whether this is politics at its more sublime form or whether this is something which comes from sheer conviction of thoughts and ideologies.

The ability to take the public along with the idea of a mass movement does not come easy and while the very act of enforcing the highway blockade is morally and ethically questionable, it must be given to the leaders of the Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee that they have been able to take the public along as well as send out this message across to all the others, especially the State Government.

This is something which needs to be acknowledged, more so given the fact that Sadar Hills is home to quite a number of civil society organisations and political parties.

The three MLAs from Sadar Hills, Thangminlien Kipgen (Kangpokpi AC), Haokholet Khongsai (Tadubi AC) and Doukhomang Khongsai (Saikul AC), have nothing much in common in their political grounding, but this has not resulted in any backroom politicking which may otherwise have subjected the ongoing agitation to a pressures of pulls and pushes.

Till date public meetings have been held at Gamgiphai, Kangpokpi, Saikul and Keithelmanbi and while all the decisions that followed these public meetings have struck the same chord-going ahead with the agitation-what stands out is the seeming stamp of public approval given to these decisions.

Is this then a departure from the endemic culture wherein the term public has come to be one of the most abused terms with sundry organisations and JACs calling a bandh or a general strike or imposing a diktat, all in the name of public interest, without the participation of the public ?

Given the complex nature of the question as well as the highly unpredictable strings that tie together the ends that make up the general understanding of the term public, a straight answer to this question may be hard to come by, but there is something novel in which the public has come to occupy centre stage in a people’s movement.

Judging by the manner in which the movement has been directed it may be surmised that any decision related to either calling it off or continuing with it, will be seen to have been decided with the concurrence of the public or more importantly, the public taking the decision and the leaders expected to fall in line with their role concentrated on directing the movement.

This is something which is vastly different from the manner in which the months long agitation that rocked the State in 2009 following the BT Road incident in which Sanjit and Rabina were killed under contradictory claims, was called off.

How this flock can be made to respond in a more positive manner to the demand of the situation is the next test that is awaiting the SHDDC leaders, the political and social leaders of Sadar Hills as well as those who have been pitchforked into the front to give some sort of a direction to the movement.

The collective leadership of the SHDDC has been able to give some sort of a new definition to public movement and the greater challenge that lies ahead of them is to see how the public can be reined in to understand that their mode of agitation does no harm to others.

The SHDDC has demonstrated that they understand the pulse beat of the public over the issue and now is the time for them move on to the next phase and that is to demonstrate that their leadership quality has something more than mobilising the people to take to the street.

The ability to bring the people out on the street must be compensated with the ability to convince them to go back since the message has already been rung out. The hallmark of a great general lies not only in drawing up the plan on the battle field but also on charting out the route which will take them back home.

Is there a political willingness and the conviction to do this ? It is incumbent on the leaders of the present movement to realise that the point of calling off their stir should not rest solely on how the Government respond to their demand but also on how it has impacted on the whole people.

No movement, however justified, has the right to rob others of their right to life and cutting off the lifelines of a people amounts to this.

Can the leaders of the SHDDC rise above the present movement and demonstrate that they have it in them to become leaders beyond the realm of the people’s aspiration for Sadar Hills as a full fledged district ?

Street politics has severe limitations and its appeal can last for only some time and no movement can exist in isolation, cut off from others. The very act of blockading the lifelines of the people for over 30 days is more like raising slogans or rights in a vacuum, which cannot be carried over to the next ear.

Prolonging the highway blockade will condemn the district demand for Sadar Hills to this status. The litmus test for maturity and political sagacity is on and this should be applicable not only to the leaders of the SHDDC but also to the people running the affairs of the State.

That Chief Minister O Ibobi is out of station to attend an international summit in Tokyo says something about his leadership quality or lack of it





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