When the Opposition and other bodies in Manipur demand Presidents’ Rule, it is quite understandable given the anarchy and mayhem which had been continuing for the last nine months. In a way, it is a wake-up call to the powers that be in the strife-torn state to act decisively to bring back law and order besides peace and normalcy.
Several innocents have lost their lives while many are missing, several thousands of people are rendered homeless and taking shelter in relief camps, heavily armed militants keep on raiding fringe villages while armed groups roam around freely, several instances of mob violence combined with obstruction of justice becoming a norm rather than isolated events. Well, there might be 101 reasons for imposing Presidents’ Rule or invoking Article 356 of the Indian Constitution in the state.
As we understand, Article 355 is already in force. It is just one Article away. But, the Chief Minister of a neighbouring state has got no business to demand PR in Manipur. Lalduhoma of Zoram Movement (ZPM) had just taken oath as the new Chief Minister of Mizoram after defeating the erstwhile insurgent leader Zoramthanga of MNF and he should be minding his own affairs and take forward Mizoram to new heights as promised in the just concluded state assembly elections.
For most Mizo leaders, whichever party they belong to, they always harp on the ‘Greater Mizoram’ issue for the benefit of nationalistic Mizo ethos. When Zoramthanga openly spoke and interfered in the internal affairs of neighbouring Manipur, it is no surprise because of the state assembly elections. He simply thought, going full throttle on the Zo unification issue while empathising with the refugees from war-torn Myanmar and the Kukis from Manipur would bring him dividends. That much, everyone understood. But Zoramthanga went one step further and began openly interfering in the internal affairs of Manipur at a time when the ethnic war was at its height.
Expressing concern about the ethnic clashes in a neighbouring state and facilitating relief camps for the people who came seeking shelter in Mizoram was humanitarian. But he went beyond that. He openly encouraged the Kuki MLAs and other leaders from Manipur, provided a platform for Kuki leaders to reach out to international bodies and even joined a public rally invoking Greater Mizoram. In fact, he went beyond his brief and joined the hate campaign against the Meiteis.
The new Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma is no different. Lalduhoma, while talking to the media after winning the elections on December 4, said that zero tolerance on state corruption, bringing about financial reforms, balanced development in the state, investigation of corruption cases by the CBI and engaging with the issue of Zo-unification are going to be the main priorities of his party’s government. With these commitments in priority, one never thought that Lalduhoma would poke his nose in affairs other than that of his state. He would certainly empathise with the Kuki-Zo people in Manipur, that much is expected.
In his recent visit to New Delhi where he met the Prime Minister Narendra Modi his emphasis was the Zo brotherhood cutting across the country’s boundaries and in his media briefing it was all about the Mizos. Yet, we cannot but admire Lalduhoma for putting his thoughts on the Zo brotherhood and reservations on border fencing. But, as Centre went ahead with the decision to continue border fencing and abolish free movement regime (FMR) despite his protestations, he seems to have lost all sense of civility and conduct with neighbouring states. This does not bode well in terms of relations with neighbouring states including Manipur.