With nothing here ‘except the unrest in his home state’ Union Minister of State for External Affairs RK Ranjan is busy fulfilling his duties of engaging in foreign jaunts and meeting dignitaries in several countries especially in Southeast Asia region to maintain good and friendly relations with the said countries.
His home in Imphal had been vandalised and burned by irate mobs twice as he was also among the politicians targeted by mobs for not doing ‘enough’ to protect the valley population during the ethnic riots. After the second attack, he lambasted the government of his own party in the state saying that it is indicative of a total failure of law-and-order.
Although he represents Inner Manipur Parliamentary constituency which covers the most parts of the valley, he could do precious little as he had not been given responsibilities either by the Centre or by his party government here. In short, he is helpless.
When RK Ranjan was sworn in as MoS and given the all-important portfolio of External Affairs along with Education, Manipur public was elated. Besides his experience in educational administration, he had been taking keen interest in issues relating to our borders. So naturally people was optimistic that Manipur’s boundary dispute with Myanmar would be resolved and people had high hopes in RK Ranjan.
But to the utter disappointment of the people of the state, RK Ranjan had not been given an opportunity to take part in a recent parliamentary debate on Manipur unrest along with the Outer Manipur MP Lorho Pfoze. According to the Outer MP his request to participate in the debate was rejected while MoS Ranjan was asked ‘to keep mum’ by the leadership. Well, there are two other MPs in the Rajya Sabha from Manipur and they also were not given an opportunity to speak. This is the predicament of our MPs.
On his responsibilities as MoS also, in the education sector he was given only some minor responsibilities and fringe sections of the overarching department which at one time was known as the Human Resources Department. And it was at the mercy of the concerned Cabinet Minister in charge of education that he is even getting some tit-bits. Well, he is quite frustrated with it as PM Modi who originally selected him for a MoS post who seems oblivious to what charges the different MoSs are given by the Minister in charges. On the other hand, it seems he had been given a mouthful with him touring the Southeast Asian region where India is directing its energies towards Act East policy.
But, we are still in the dark as to what has been achieved by the said policy. Nearer home, the boundary dispute with Myanmar still remains unresolved although the work of border fencing had been taken up in right earnest. Frequent border incursions by Myanmar villagers backed by their authorities along the Manipur sector of the international border and cases of missing boundary pillars or shifting of the pillars has been happening now and then since Manipur’s merger with the Indian Union, besides the controversy over subsidiary boundary pillars.
Territorial integrity and boundary had been an emotive issues for the Manipuris with it losing the Kabaw valley, a 22,210 sq km large area to Myanmar through the Treaty of Yandaboo. The Indian establishment cares only for Manipur, but not its territories. While the BJP government is busy congratulating itself for its ‘Act East Policy’ instead of ‘Look East Policy’ of the then Congress government, it seems to have forgotten the importance of maintaining its borders.
(The views expressed are personal)