The election underlined basically two important facts in the case of Manipur: failure of the plainsmen to translate their opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill into the defeat of the BJP and a moral boost for Naga solidarity.
The survey shows that over one in every four respondents said he or she had taken part in a protest or demonstration against the Bill. Moreover, nearly 75% were found to be aware of the issue and among them, four-fifths said they fully oppose the Bill. However, when it came to expressing their disapproval through the ballot, the people did not rally together and put up a combined opposition to the BJP.
Table 1: Despite strong opposition to CAB, many voted for the BJP candidates
Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, BJP candidate from Manipur Inner, won the seat by a margin of 17,755 votes over Congress candidate Oinam Nabakishore Singh.
In the Manipur Outer constituency, it was the NPF which was victorious and the BJP the runner-up. The success of the NPF gave a big moral boost to the solidarity of the Nagas. It underlines the Naga tribes transcending their individual tribe identities in favour of the larger Naga identity. However, data suggest the Kuki-Chin-Mizo group of tribes (the Thadous particularly) and the Meiteis/plainsmen who came within the constituency voted mainly either for the BJP or the Congress. The NPF seems to have swept the Tangkhul vote.
Table 2: Over half the respondents were dissatisfied with the Central government with complete dissatisfaction five times greater than complete satisfaction
Thus, in the Inner constituency, the contest was between the two all-India parties, whereas in the Outer constituency, the contest was between one all-India party and one State-based local party.
National issues and the Modi factor do not seem to have mattered — only 17% wanted Narendra Modi back as Prime Minister whereas preference for Rahul Gandhi was nearly double at 33%. Only two-fifths of the respondents said they were satisfied with the performance of the Modi government with over half being dissatisfied.
(Senjam Mangi Singh is a Professor at the Department of Political Science, Manipur University)