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Can Narendra Modi honour Manipur by accepting ILP and removing AFSPA before 2017?

Ningombam Bupenda Meitei *

Sit-In protest Killing for pro-ILPS on July 12 2015
Sit-In protest Killing for pro-ILPS on July 12 2015 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not be unhappy to see what has happened to Congress governments, which are democratically elected by the people, in Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and the present political events unfolding in Manipur's Congress party. What precisely is to ask Narendra Modi, is to know whether his government in New Delhi will accept and extend ILP (Inner Line Permit), passed unanimously by Manipur Assembly, in Manipur and remove AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) 1958 from Manipur before the next state assembly election of Manipur in 2017? Can Modi sarkar do it for Manipur and the people of Manipur? Can it be done in 2016?

It was under the leadership of the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the then Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh, along with the then Chief Minister of Manipur Okram Ibobi Singh, that AFSPA was removed from the seven assembly segments of Imphal valley of Manipur. It was essentially the Indian National Congress which heard the voices of the hearts of the people of Manipur that had led to the removal of such act from some portion of the state. It was again the same Congress government in Manipur which tabled the 3 bills [the Protection of Manipur Peoples Bill, 2015; the Manipur Land Revenue & Land Reforms (7th Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Manipur Shops & Establishments (2nd Amendment) Bills, 2015] in Manipur Assembly and they were passed unanimously by the Manipur Assembly, in entirety, with no dissent, with officially recorded in the records of Manipur Assembly, to it on the floor of the House. It was indeed the realisation of the public's real demand of safeguarding Manipur and the indigenous people of Manipur by the Indian National Congress government in Manipur.

What has Indian National Congress party done for the people of Manipur? The Congress government did remove the AFSPA from the major portions of Manipur valley and introduced the historic 3 bills of Manipur to be unanimously passed by Manipur Assembly. It was the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh who assured of ST (Scheduled Tribe) status to Meiteis/Meeteis to the team from Manipur led by the then Lok Sabha's Member of Parliament Dr. Th. Meinya in Prime Minister's Office. The Indian National Congress' dream of developed Manipur with safeguarded indigenous people of Manipur is essentially the major reason that has made the three terms of Congress government led by Okram Ibobi Singh a grand possibility. In fact, the number of Congress MLAs kept increasing in the three successive terms from 2002 to 2017. Ibobi Singh could, perhaps, become like the legendary Jyoti Basu of West Bengal. 2017 will and shall decide it.

When Modi wave had impacted almost the entire country in 2014 Lok Sabha election, in Manipur, the entire two seats in Lok Sabha were voted for the Indian National Congress by the politically conscious voters of Manipur. Manipur is the only state in the entire country where out of its 3 (three) MPs in Parliament, all of them are from the same party the Congress. Manipur is also a unique state where, despite having larger percentage of Hindu population, the idea of one nation, one religion, one food habit, one language, one faith has failed to attract the Hindu Vaishnavites of Manipur. In fact, the Hindus of Manipur, along with the people of other faiths and non-believers, have been traditionally supportive of the ideas and ideals of secularism, inclusiveness and social development of the people of the state. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the re-incarnation of Lord Krishna, does not belong to any political party, and this philosophy is very well understood and practiced by the Meitei Hindu Vaishnavites of Manipur.

Imphal is such a beautiful place where one can witness the living existence of vibrant religious harmony from the fact that in the heart of the capital city, which begins from the ancient capital The Kangla, it is encircled by the ancient Meitei Sanamahi temples, Govindajee Temple, Ramji Prabhu temple, Nityananda temple, Masjid, Catholic Church, Protestant Church, Kali Mandir, Shani Devta Mandir, Jain Mandir and Sikh's Gurudwara. Such harmony is the living testimony of the greatness of the culture of Manipuris and it, therefore, becomes a way of life for every people of Manipur to accept the philosophy of 'religious tolerance, social inclusiveness, secularism, cultural acknowledgment, democratic debates, mutual respect and space for each other, love for peace and humanism' and this is where the Indian National Congress, the only party among all other parties, has understood for Manipur and in Manipur since 1949. Thus, the Congress party is a natural party accepted, from hearts and minds, by the common people of Manipur. It is with this logic and empathy that there has been a Congress government continuously, without any break, in Manipur since 2002.

Can such beauty of harmonious mutual existence be allowed to come to an end by accepting the ideas which oppose ILP in Manipur, keep imposing AFSPA in Manipur and make a serious attempt to destroy the territorial integrity of Manipur by dividing the indigenous people of Manipur? Will the common people of Manipur allow it to happen in 2017? The answer lies both in the maturity of the electorates of Manipur and the deep understanding of the Congress for the people of Manipur.

What has Prime Minister Narendra Modi done for Manipur so far? Has he even discussed the 3 bills passed by the Manipur Assembly in his own Union Cabinet? If so, then, what has he decided on it? Why is he silent on AFSPA in Manipur? Why is he not welcoming the genuine wish of Irom Sharmila to meet him? What has made Narendra Modi to believe that setting up AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), IIM (Indian Institute of Management) and IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) in Manipur is of no significance as the Congress government in Manipur is neither an ally nor of the same party to which he belongs?

Why is Narendra Modi not explicitly stating that the territorial integrity of Manipur will never be compromised and destroyed? If the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh could remove AFSPA from 7 assembly segments of Imphal valley, then why can't the Prime Minister Narendra Modi remove AFSPA from hills and the rest of Manipur's Imphal valley? If the Congress government of Manipur has initiated and succeeded in passing the 3 bills to protect the indigenous people of Manipur unanimously in Manipur assembly, then what has stopped the party, in which Narendra Modi believes, from also supporting and converting the 3 bills into acts to safeguard the indigenous people of Manipur? Why is Narendra Modi neither showing any interest towards protecting the indigenous people of Manipur, by converting the 3 bills into acts, nor removing AFSPA from Manipur?

What has Prime Minister Narendra Modi done for the people of the North East India so far? During the tenure of the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Bezbaruah Committee was constituted and its report was submitted when Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. What has Prime Minister Narendra Modi done on the reports of Bezbaruah Committee? Who and what has stopped Prime Minister Modi from implementing the Bezbaruah Committee in toto? When the then BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was expressing his sadness on the death of Nido Taniam through his speech, Rahul Gandhi was with the people of the North East India demanding 'Justice for Nido Taniam' at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

The then BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi stated that the death of Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Taniam in Delhi was a matter of national shame and asked the then UPA II government and the Delhi government to shun their blame game on the issue and ensure justice for him. Is not implementing Bezbaruah Committee report in toto by Modi government ensuring 'Justice for Nido Taniam' and a 'national pride' now? Has Prime Minister Modi forgotten Nido Taniam after May 16, 2014? What has Prime Minister Narendra Modi done to stop the infiltrations of illegal migration from Bangladesh and Myanmar towards the North East India? Why is he not acting to stop the illegal migration of foreigners from Bangladesh and Myanmar towards the North East India, particularly Assam and Manipur?

The then BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi criticized the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for failing to ensure the development of the North East region despite representing it for the last 23 years in the Rajya Sabha. The present question is, has the Prime Minister Modi done anything to implement Bezbaruah Committee report in toto, to accept and extend 3 bills of Manipur passed unanimously by Manipur Assembly to safeguard and protect the indigenous people of Manipur, to remove AFSPA from Manipur and meet Irom Sharmila in person, to stop, detect and deport the illegal foreigners and unauthorised occupants from Bangladesh and Myanmar in the North East India, particularly in Assam and Manipur, to protect and preserve the existing territorial integrity of all the North Eastern states of India from getting compromised and destroyed in the last almost 2 years of Modi sarkar in India?

If Modi could criticize Dr. Manmohan Singh's silence, why should not Modi's inaction and silence on the above serious questions be posited by the conscious electorates of the North East India before Assam and Manipur state assembly elections in 2016 and 2017 respectively? Can Prime Minister Modi meet Irom Sharmila before 2017? Can Prime Minister Modi accept and convert the 3 bills of Manipur to acts to protect the indigenous people of Manipur before 2017? Can Prime Minister Modi remove AFSPA from the hills of Manipur and the remaining parts of Manipur valley? Can Prime Minister Modi ensure the protection of existing constitutional powers and integrity (territorial, administrative, constitutional and financial) of Manipur before 2017? Can Prime Minister Modi be willingly accepting to honour the dignity and truth of the common people of Manipur by answering to the aforementioned questions before he comes for an election campaign in Manipur for its 2017 state assembly election? Can Prime Minister Modi really salute the history and civilization of Manipur before 2017?


* Ningombam Bupenda Meitei wrote this article for e-pao.net
Ningombam Bupenda Meitei, educated at St. Stephen's College, Delhi, is an author and poet
This article was posted on March 22, 2016.


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