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Theatrics missing in playwright’s campaign

Elections aside, Manipur is a battlefield. And Moirangthem Nara is a ‘dramatic’ soldier in this theatre of war.

india Updated: Apr 21, 2009 00:36 IST
Rahul Karmakar

Elections aside, Manipur is a battlefield. And Moirangthem Nara is a ‘dramatic’ soldier in this theatre of war.

You have possibly not heard of Nara (58), the CPI’s candidate from Inner Manipur constituency. But he has had quite a following across Europe after his play Lidici gi Gulap (Roses for Lidici) was performed in several European countries two years ago. It showcased the scars of conflicts — both in Nazi Germany or in militancy-ravaged Manipur.

For the uninitiated, the village of Lidici in Czech Republic became a symbol of war crimes committed by Hitler’s holocaust-mongers in 1942. On June 10 every year, many from Europe descend on Lidici with roses to pay homage to those butchered.

Lidici gi Gulap did more than draw a parallel with the mayhem in Manipur — by security forces and by militants. It lent the traditional Shumang Leela or courtyard theatre an international appeal, besides signaling its maturity from days of mythologies and masala.

Communist playwright Nara feels Shumang Leela gives him an edge, but doesn’t believe in theatrics unlike his rivals.

“Instead of trading charges, political parties and leaders should fight openly towards bringing a revolutionary change in Manipur, ensuring social development,” says the former Art and Culture Minister in the first alliance government led
by Congress’s Okram Ibobi Singh.

The Congress-CPI alliance returned to power in 2007. If the CPI in Manipur refused to part ways with the Congress after the Left withdrew support from the UPA last year, blame it on Nara to a large extent.

Of course, Nara promises to get the Armed Forces Special Powers Act repealed. This is something none of his rivals — sitting MP Thokchom Meinya (58) of Congress, Wahengbam Nipamacha Singh (78) of BJP, Thounaojam Chaoba (70) of Manipur People’s Party and three others — can afford not to pledge in a state touchy about excesses by security forces.