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It’s time for Bharat Jodo in Parliament
Protests, stalling proceedings of Parliament and avoiding discussion cannot unite India. Not that the grand old party called Congress does not understand this. But they want the BJP government at Centre and in Manipur to go and pave way for them. For its part, the BJP should have taken the initiative long back to call the opposition parties to apprise them of the real situation and sought their cooperation in resolving the issue. Whether it was over confidence or ego problem one does not know, but no such attempt was made
All political parties are now fully into election mode. It is time the NDA government led by BJP takes up the adjournment motion moved by team I.N.D.I.A, which is a statutory obligation, and adjourn the Lok Sabha sine die as no party seems to be really interested in discussing Manipur violence to find a long-lasting solution or other issues like Uniform Civil Code.
The misfortune of the people of the country is that the opposition which had got a very good chance to tear into the government refuses to utilise the opportunity on frivolous grounds. The contention of the opposition parties is that the Prime Minister is silent and that he should first make a statement.
Well, all are veteran politicians who had been getting elected for more than four or five terms – if not more. They very well know that the Prime Minister never makes a statement first on such issues. It is the minister concerned who makes a statement which is followed by a thorough discussion and the Prime Minister intervenes.
Another small excuse by the opposition not to start the discussion on the burning issue of Manipur is that government has agreed only for short duration discussion. On issues such as Manipur, once a discussion begins, the short discussion can be converted into long discussion and there are any number of such precedents in the annals of the history of Parliament.
But our leaders are more interested in giving rainbow colours to their excuse of not discussing the issue and blaming it on the government. So, the best option for the lawmakers is wear black dress, protest holding placards inside Parliament break rules, come out and stage protests in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue to get media attention, tweet something and call it a day. This has been happening from July 20, the day monsoon session began, and it appears that will continue till the session ends.
“How best can we get more votes” is their only concern, but not finding a solution to the problem. One does not understand why they are failing to expose the government if it has failed in handling the law and order situation and if the Chief Minister of Manipur is not able to restore law and order. If the opposition can prove that the state and the Union government have failed, certainly it would get them more sympathy from the voters. Why they are missing this simple logic one does not know.
Trouble in Manipur is not a new issue. Clashes and violence have not taken place there for the first time. Manipur has a history of insurgency and violence. The UNLF (United National Liberation Front), founded in 1964, wanted independence from India. Manipur has history of insurgency despite the Central government having complete control of the state law and order. There have been many occasions where the Centre had taken measures which were just short of enforcing Article 356 on the State. Article 356 means imposition of President’s Rule. The BJP, which has been blinking at all kinds of violent incidents in Andhra Pradesh and suppression of right to question by its friendly state government, would certainly not enforce President’s Rule in Manipur whatever be the ground situation.
The BJP leaders claim that there has been deep-seated rivalry amongst the ethnic groups of Manipur for long and that forces which are inimical to the state are taking advantage of the situation. The opposition parties say that the people of seven hill districts are opposing the Hindutva tag of BJP and that they lost the trust in the ruling party and feel that it will not protect the minority interests. The people of hill districts want separate state or administered region for the hill tribes.
They also allege that the present Chief Minister who is from Meitei tribe had issued an order for eviction of people from the forests who did not have legal holdings of the land and this was the igniting point for the present agitation. The eviction order had met with stiff opposition from the hill districts and the result is Manipur has now become a boiling point which has taken different twists and turns.
What is most disgusting is that despite the situation being such a serious one, the team I.N.D.I.A is talking more and more of the most horrific incident of women being stripped naked and paraded and not going into the ground situation. As true nationalists, it is expected that every lawmaker would rise above their political agenda and help the government restore peace and normalcy. Such an act certainly would have been admired as real Bharat Jodo act.
Protests, stalling proceedings of Parliament and avoiding discussion cannot unite India. Not that the grand old party called Congress does not understand this. But they want the BJP government at Centre and in Manipur to go and pave way for them. Well, the desire to come to power cannot be found fault with. But what is unfortunate is the method they are adopting. They seem to be unable to shrug off the colonial system of divide and rule. Team I.N.D.I.A has so far done nothing in the direction of Kuki-Meitei Jodo which should have been done on priority basis. Apparently, they want to keep the issue burning till 2024 elections.
The BJP too is unable to explain the real ground situation before the violence erupted and the situation now. It should have taken the initiative long back to call the opposition parties to apprise them of the real situation and sought their cooperation in resolving the issue. Whether it was over confidence or ego problem one does not know, but no such attempt was made. Both sides the saffron party and the team I.N.D.I.A are blaming each other for the crisis. As a counter- attack, the BJP is listing out atrocities in poll-bound states like Rajasthan.
But the women folk belonging to Meitei community who are staying in relief camps say that till May when the violence started, the Meitei and the Kuki communities were staying peacefully. There were friendly relations and both communities had trade relations between them. Who ignited the trouble, they say they are not aware, but Manipur is now burning. They are openly expressing their unhappiness over the way the political parties including the ruling party in the state and at the Centre as well as the opposition were dealing with the situation. They say they have been living under fear and in an inhospitable condition in the relief camps and even resorted to collecting donations from people to ensure that they survive. In villages, they say youth are taking to arms to protect their villages. The Kukis, they allege, have lots of weapons.
The only solution to this, they say, is to punish those who are involved in the incident of stripping the women and those who ignited the violence in the state. They say if the state and the Union government do not act fast, they would have to continue to live in fear and suffer in the relief camps. They also suspect that some banned organisations were fanning the trouble.
Instead of accusations and counter accusations, both the Union government and the opposition in the larger interests of the country should work together and find a solution. The trouble in this North Eastern state is not new. This issue figured in Parliament as long back as 11.08.1997 when it was raised in Parliament by George Fernandes. Interestingly, he did not make an issue of the Speaker not giving time for a discussion. He raised the issue during the zero hour which follows question time. For him highlighting the issue was important than indulging in theatrics.
So, what is required now is that all the political parties should put their differences and aspirations to come to power in the state and centre on back burner, sit together with an open mind, discuss the issue threadbare and find a proper solution. That would be real Bharat Jodo act.