TODAY -

Tedious tirades and futile expectations
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: March 11, 2024 -



IT is becoming increasingly clear that the Indian National Congress (INC) is not going to rest from criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not visiting Manipur until he pays a visit to the violence-hit state or says something substantial about ending the ethnic conflict between the Meitei/Meetei and Kuki-Chin communities that has been going on since May 3 last year.

When the Prime Minister started off his two-day visit to the northeastern states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh by taking time out from his jam-packed schedule for inauguration and foundation stone laying for multiple projects worth Rs 55,600 crore in Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh to go on an elephant and jeep safari inside the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve, on March 9 morning, the opposition Congress party as usual did not lose the opportunity of asking why Prime Minister Modi had not found time to visit the violence-hit Manipur yet.

Leading the brigade in taking a swipe at the Prime Minister, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who is also the general secretary in-charge of communications of the party, is quoted to have said, "We're glad that the Prime Minister has found time amidst his various travels to spend today morning in Kaziranga, an iconic national park which owes much to the great interest shown both by Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

However, beyond Kaziranga, there are four questions for him on the "increasingly disturbed" situation in different parts of the Northeast of India". In addition to enumerating various issues afflicting the region including Chinese aggression on the soil of India, Jairam Ramesh made it a point to remind the Prime Minister that Manipur has been in a "state of virtual civil war" for nearly a year now with hundreds of people dead, lakhs displaced, communities at war with each other, and the administration collapsed, and asked "Why has the Prime Minister, ordinarily misusing taxpayer's money to campaign around the country, not found the time to visit Manipur yet, or even take a call with the Chief Minister and the political parties of the state? Is he waiting for the people of India to buy him a ticket to Imphal?".

Howsoever true it may be, such vituperative tirades of the Congress party against the failure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pay a state in his own country which has been embroiled by an ethnic conflict or say anything concrete about resolving the conflict, is becoming tedious.

With the conflict entering the tenth month, by now everyone including the Congress party knows very well that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not going to visit Manipur at any time soon nor say anything about the ongoing ethnic conflict as visiting the state or saying anything now is not going to be of any help other than putting his own reputation at stake.

By maintaining a studied silence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had obviously miscalculated the gravity of the ethnic conflict when it first broke out on May 3 last year after people of Kuki-Chin community clashed with the Meitei/Meetei days after the High Court of Manipur passed a decree on the Meetei/Meitei's demand for recognition as Scheduled Tribe (ST) under the Constitution of the country.

He might have thought his right-hand man and Union Home Minister Amit Shah could handle the crisis with ease without his involvement.

But the complexity of the issues entwined in the conflict is such that even the Union Home Minister is yet to keep his promise of coming back after fifteen days since his stay in Manipur from May 29 evening to the morning of June 2 last year.

In such a situation, it is going to be even harder for the Prime Minister to visit Manipur or say anything about the conflict in the state now when he had passed up the opportunity to do so while there was time. As maintaining the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is more important than anything for the continuation of BJP in governance, linking him in the public mind with the Manipur crisis is the least thing one could expect from the party leaders, especially when the crucial elections to the House of the People in Indian Parliament is just round the corner.

Let this fact be clear to all.



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