TODAY -

Stealing the spotlight from Manipur crisis
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: June 14, 2024 -



THANKS to the recent remarks made by Mohan Bhagwat, the sarsangchalak (chief) of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS); the over one year long ethnic conflict in the tiny northeastern Indian state of Manipur seems to have been brought back into the consciousness of a flippantly forgetful nation once again with the mainstream media outlets talking about it incessantly.

Attending the closing ceremony of an RSS-worker development event held in Nagpur, Maharashtra on June 10, Mohan Bhagwat had expressed serious concern over the tumultuous situation prevailing in Manipur and stressed the need for prioritizing resolution of the prolonged conflict.

"Manipur is waiting for peace for the last one year. There was peace there 10 years ago. It felt like gun culture had finished. But the state has suddenly seen violence. The situation must be considered with priority. There is a need to get over election rhetoric and focus on problems facing the nation."

These are translation of the exact words Mohan Bhagwat had spoken in chaste Hindi in his address to the RSS trainees that was broadcast live.

Within minutes of the address, many of the mainstream media outlets, which had kept issue of Manipur violence on the back burner, started discussing it vociferously, seeking opinions of the so-called experts of TV discussion programme to understand the implication of the remarks made by the chief of an influential Hindu right-wing nationalist volunteer organisation, in the backdrop of poor showing of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the just concluded national elections to the 18th Lok Sabha even though it has been able to retain power at the centre for the third consecutive term with support from its allies.

The fact that RSS has always been the ideological mentor and guide of BJP has made these remarks of Mohan Bhagwat very significant and this has not been lost to the media outlets, which is good in one way.

But the manner in which leaders from the Indian National Congress (INC) and other opposition parties have banded together in backing the remarks of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, mainly with an eye on attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the deteriorating situation in the northeastern state is becoming suffocating.

Without losing any time, general secretary of INC Jairam Ramesh took to the microblogging site X and posted, "If not the 'one-third' Prime Minister's conscience or the repeated demands of the people of Manipur, perhaps Mr Bhagwat can prevail upon the former RSS office-bearer to go to Manipur."

When asked about the RSS chiefs comments, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav is quoted to have said, "He has been too late in speaking out" while alluding "The prime minister, on his part, has merely kept silent on every crisis, be it violence in that state, or protests by farmers and female wrestlers in Delhi".

Not desirous of missing out on the opportunity, Kapil Sibal, who quitted the Congress party and got elected to the Rajya Sabha as an independent candidate with support from Sama-jwadi Party (SP) said, it is "not in the DNA" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to listen to the words of the opposition, but he should pay heed to the RSS chiefs advice and not repeat what had happened over the last 10 years of their government.

Similarly, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray has asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi would visit Manipur in the light of recent comments by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat regarding the situation in the northeastern state.

From all these responses of the opposition leaders, it is becoming clear that the spotlight on Manipur has been stolen, yet again.

Just like the mainstream media outlets which are more enthusiastic of finding a topic for discussion in their prime time, leaders of the opposition parties have reduced the significance of the remarks made by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on prioritising resolution of the over one year long Manipur crisis to a mere political tool to target the Prime Minister whose say or visit to Manipur now is not going to make any difference to the hundreds of bereaved families and thousands of displaced families on both sides of the clash divide.



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