Angomcha Bimol Akoijam: Meet JNU prof who bested the BJP in Inner Manipur

MP says he took the plunge as the political class failed to address violence


At the height of the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, a video of Angomcha Bimol Akoijam belting out a song of the legendary rock band Scorpions went viral. He had recorded the video during the pandemic. He got fabulous response for the video from his constituency, Inner Manipur. The video established the 57-year-old’s identity as an apolitical person whom the people could relate to.

Akoijam, an associate rofessor at JNU, is a music aficionado and a filmmaker. He says It was the complete failure of the political class to deal with the violence in Manipur that forced him to to fight the elections. - Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, Inner Manipur, Manipur

Akoijam, an associate professor at the School of Social Sciences in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, is a music aficionado, and his mother told him that he was in the wrong profession. He is actively involved in filmmaking, and has directed feature films and documentaries. But he is currently getting noticed for his successful electoral debut as a Congress candidate, having wrested the Inner Manipur constituency from the BJP.

Akoijam said the vote for him represented the sense of frustration and dissatisfaction that the people of Manipur were feeling towards the BJP government at the Centre and in the state. He said many people in the state described his victory as a transformative moment in Manipur’s politics.

Akoijam, who has been teaching at JNU for 16 years, said while he was vocal on issues of public interest for a long time, he had no interest in electoral politics. It was the complete failure of the political class to deal with the divide and violence in Manipur that forced him to decide to fight the elections, he said.

Akoijam’s father, who was a professor of history, had joined the Congress in 1980 and contested the assembly elections. But Akoijam said his decision to join the Congress was not influenced by that and that he was guided by the present circumstances. He described the situation in Manipur as that of “statelessness”. “The authority of the state was not felt at all. People are not able to travel from one area to another. They are living in relief camps in utterly horrible conditions,” he said.

But he is optimistic that the deep divide between communities in the strife-torn state can be bridged. “Mushkil hai, namumkin nahin (It is tough, but not impossible).”