One is perplexed with whether the state leaders are on the same wavelength with the Central leaders on the Manipur unrest and the issues surrounding it. As early as May second week after violence broke out, AICC incharge Bhakta Charan Das demanded President’s Rule to quell the unrest in the state.
Das alleged that Arambai Tenggol, an outfit raised on the lines of Bajrang Dal in Manipur, is behind the arson of churches and looting of weapons from police camps. He said that Arambai Tenggol, which had the blessings of Chief Minister N Biren Singh destroyed churches belonging to the Meiteis too.
Emboldened by statements like this, 10 Kuki MLAs, including those of BJP, raised the demand of a separate administration in Manipur for the Kuki areas. However, the Congress party did not spell out its clear-cut stance on the demand.
Of course, the state Congress Legislature party leader and former chief minister in a later press conference did say that the Congress party always stands for the unity and integrity of Manipur and will not compromise when Manipur's integrity is threatened. On the question of MLAs demanding a separate administration they merely appealed to those MLAs to reconsider their demand. This was when all other political parties and CSOs including leading voices had been demanding the ouster of the Kuki MLAs.
Privilege motions were moved in the state assembly seeking their disqualification for making a demand which threatens the territorial integrity of the state. Yet, nobody from the Central High Command of Congress said anything about such a demand for separate administration.
We know, BJP is not that serious about the unrest and all their actions and selective silence seems to point to a desire to let events take its own course. Outwardly, they paint a picture of them fighting for the cause of the ‘Hindu Meiteis’ which the Meiteis can certainly do without. The present violence is at all about the majority ‘Hindu Meiteis’ and minority ‘Kuki Christians’ seeking each other’s annihilation.
We also understand that, some of the anti-Hindutva elements are outrightly trying to blame everything on the ‘Hindu Meiteis’ for the present violence. Even the hawkish Congress spokesperson became shriller after the ‘naked parade’ and their entire diatribe was against Prime Minister Modi’s silence while the imagined basis of Manipur unrest had been sacrificed. Yes, the revelation of the naked parade did wake up the Prime Minister from his beauty sleep. Prime Minister Modi briefly addressed the situation in Manipur, sparking criticism from the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) for failing to present a comprehensive strategy to restore peace in the region.
Then again, what is the comprehensive strategy of the Congress? Does it have a plan to douse the fire burning in the state instead of crying hoarse about it? As a tentative strategy, a buffer had been created between the valley and surrounding hills inhabited by Kukis had been created while sporadic attacks by Kuki militants against Meitei villagers still continue.
Meitei villagers are not allowed to go beyond the buffer zone and security barriers. What is the stand of the Congress party with regard to the creation of such a buffer? Has the work for ultimate separation already started? The general population in the valley are openly alleging that Assam Rifles is partisan and asking for its removal. What is the Congress party’s stand on it? As a responsible Opposition party, it should not shy away from such questions.