On Wednesday, the Congress urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit violence-hit Manipur (taking a cue from Rahul Gandhi) to understand first-hand the problems of the people. The opposition party said it would seek a “specific reply” from the government on the situation in Manipur in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament.
The Congress also warned stakeholders that attempts to destabilise the country’s north-eastern region and divide the people there will have grave consequences for the territorial integrity of India.
Rahul Gandhi, posting a video of his visit to Manipur on Twitter, said Manipur needs peace to heal and everyone must work towards it. Gandhi also asked to convene an all-party meeting as the first one was held under Amit Shah, the Union Home Minister. “Peace is the only way forward, and we must all work towards it. During my 2-day visit to the state, it broke my heart to see our brothers and sisters in pain,” he said.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh, tagging Gandhi’s tweet, said that due to the politics of hate and violence, ‘walls’ have come up and it wasn’t the people of Manipur but the state police and the administration who tried to block him.
Ramesh added, “Manipur needs peace. The people of Manipur need a healing touch. The walls of hate and mistrust need to be broken down. For that to happen, the CM must go and the PM has to wake up,” he said.
Ramesh said further that even though PM Modi has found time to congratulate the Indian football team on their spectacular performance, he continues to remain silent on Manipur. “There are three footballers from Manipur who proudly represent India. His silence hurts them as well,” he added.
Meanwhile, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said the basic responsibility of any state government is to maintain law and order and protect the lives of its citizens and the governments in both the state and the Centre have failed to do so. Gogoi was addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi.
“There is a tremendous level of pain, grief, hatred, and enmity felt by people belonging to all communities. They all feel let down…Now the bonds which have been broken in Manipur will take a long time to heal. The Congress is willing to be part of that healing process. The situation is still not normal in Manipur,” Gogoi said.
Congress leader Ajoy Kumar, speaking at the same press conference, said that PM Modi may have time in his schedule but no space in his heart for Manipur.
Gogoi said Rahul Gandhi went to Manipur to start the initial process of healing. The MP from Assam said that hopefully the PM will visit the state because it has been a mystery as to why the PM has completely avoided going to Manipur or even talking about it. The Congress’ deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Gogoi also noted that the Parliament session is approaching and that the party wants a specific reply from the government inside Parliament.
“We want a specific reply from the government inside Parliament. We have also asked for accountability from the state government. We want to go beyond the drama and rhetoric as performed by Chief Minister N Biren Singh,” he said.
Launching a scathing attack on the BJP, Gogoi said that all it was interested in was taxing the poor and protecting the corrupt. “They are treating the entire Northeast as an ATM, as a way of earning money, as a way of giving contracts to companies listed in the name of (leaders’) wives, brothers, sons…that is the only modus operandi,” he alleged.
Referring to the skirmishes between the Assam Police and the Meghalaya Police, Gogoi warned against destabilising the north-east and said it took two decades of efforts to bring peace and restore normalcy there and there is a danger that the situation today is drifting back to the old status quo. Gogoi also said that dividing the people of the northeast will have grave implications for India’s territorial integrity.
Last week, Rahul Gandhi had paid a two-day visit to Manipur, where he had appealed for peace, saying “violence is no solution”. On the concluding day of his visit, Gandhi had also met state governor Anusuiya Uikey, members of civil society groups and victims of violence lodged in relief camps.
Nearly 12 people have died and over 3,000 have suffered injuries in the ethnic violence in Manipur that flared up in May. The Congress has repeatedly alleged that the BJP and its “divisive politics” are responsible for the present situation in the north-eastern state.