In the terrain of guns, roses pack a punch. The election in Manipur has been clouded by militancy, but two women, armed with flower power, are trying to “change it”. In areas, where the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) writ runs large, very few dare to contest against “consensus candidates” of the United Naga Council (UNC), which pursues the Naga unification cause.
Not Valley Rose Hungyo — the lone woman candidate in the Tangkhul-dominated Ukhrul district. Valley Rose is undaunted by her two formidable rivals—sitting MLA and UNC-sponsored candidate Wungnaoshang Keishing and Victor Keishing, son of former chief minister Rishang Keishing—in Phungyar.
She is contesting on the Naga National Party ticket, dubbed the “family party” as it is led by her husband Ngathingkhui Hungyo. “Give me a chance, I will nurse the constituency,” is Valley Rose’s campaign catch-line. Nursing is her pet word; she has worked as a government nurse for 11 years before quitting her job for social service.
If Valley Rose has some experience—she contested the 2000 and 2004 Lok Sabha polls — namesake Rose Mangshi Haokip is a “political greenhorn”. But she is proving to be a thorn for sitting Congress MLA Ngamthang Haokip in the Kuki-dominated Saitu constituency in Senapati district.
Rose, a retired head of political science of a government college, is the first Kuki woman to earn a post-graduate degree. With a gift of the gab, she has been at the forefront of the the campaign to protect Manipur’s territorial integrity and to repeal the black laws.
Both Phungyar and Saitu go to the polls on February 8.