20 Aug 2023  |   04:59am IST

Manipur continues to burn with or without NCM

Srinivas Kamat

The no-confidence motion  (NCM) by the Opposition parties in Parliament on Manipur has gone by, with the motion being defeated which a foregone conclusion. The no-confidence motion was required to be moved as a symbolic slap in the face for the incumbent government for its many sins of commission and omission on Manipur, more of the latter in fact. It was also necessary to bring to the House a visitor to Parliament who though elected by the people as a member refuses to be seen in the House except on very rare occasions. The visitor in question was none other than Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of independent India. 

With Narendra Modi avoiding his presence in the House, which is a habit he is carrying over from his Gujarat Assembly days, when as Chief Minister, his being seen in the Assembly was an Id Ka Chand event. If one were to ask why this man is known more by what he does not do and shirks his pressing responsibilities like applying his mind to find peace in Manipur and go there to know first hand the situation on the ground, one is not likely to get any answers.

Even when he spoke on the no-confidence motion it was more on other things than on Manipur for which he had few words and more in the nature of tame assurances and banal comments like peace and progress will return to the State and that for the sufferings the women have gone through, the nation is with them. What is new about these statements? Is peace not what we want in the State? If the nation is with Manipur’s women how does it alleviate their suffering? Is this what we expect of our Prime Minister? 

Modi and his government have been in power since 2014. Many of the States in the North East are BJP ruled or with the party in alliance with regional political parties. So the question would be what was Modi & the BJP doing for the last 9 years even after having a presence in the region. In one word - nothing. The problem with Modi and his men is that they are quick to grab credit when they see it, like when some years ago the Naga accord was moving to some kind of settlement but whenever they see problems like what we have seen in Manipur they look the other way. 

In the North East, what we need to recognise is that there is a deep sense of alienation from India because of the distances from Delhi. They have always felt that governments at the Centre have not applied their minds to the problems of the North East and are not interested in them. Apart from that majority of the people in the region are tribal groups where hostilities between some tribes run deep. The lack of education among the majority of the people make them inward looking and deeply rooted in their traditional beliefs and practices. Therefore when they are jolted by riots and crimes like rapes they find it difficult to deal with such situations and become extremely shell shocked and resentful rejecting the common mechanisms of dealing with these events through a system of police complaints etc. 

That is what maybe explains the delay in the incident of parading the women naked coming to light after about 100 days. Another incident of gang rape has now come out with a delay for reporting of a similar number of days. When the BJP questions mockingly the timing of these incidents coming to light after such long delay and just before the Parliament session, they are showing their lack of empathy to the victims. 

Nothing happened after Shah had visited Manipur and that too after almost a month of the commencement of the unrest and his visit was an utter failure. He carried back a manufactured narrative of the reasons for the unrest in Manipur to an unheard of extent with plain falsities stated on the floor of Parliament, like saying that the influx of migrants from Burma since 2021, has resulted in the tensions. This is simply not true. Shah is developing a penchant to mouth lies in Parliament wherein in another case of a woman from Maharashtra who Rahul Gandhi had helped after a personal tragedy both financially and to get a house, Shah claimed that the woman was from Bundelkhand and that Narendra Modi had helped her to settle down to normalcy. The woman herself had given interviews to the media testifying that her benefactor was Rahul Gandhi which is in the public domain and Shah could have seen this before making a fool of himself on the floor of the House. 

In trying to counter Rahul Gandhi’s speech during the no-confidence motion, Smriti Irani was all bluff and bluster, with no substance in her words. These BJP leaders are so full of their egos and self-importance that one feels it is a dangerous path to go down for the country with them in a leadership role. Like Irani without going to Manipur, without talking to the people there particularly those affected by the unrest and riots seems to know the situation prevailing there. Her confidence and the emphatic way she said this exhibited her sheer stupidity when dealing with a crisis with humanitarian implications and crimes against women, herself being a woman, that one wonders how people like her would handle the onerous responsibilities given to them by government. They fail to realise that playing with words and making use of rebuttals does not by itself lead to any positive results unless it is backed by facts and measures taken to improve or resolve the matters in hand.

Overall, like it was said earlier, it was known that the no-confidence motion would be defeated but the message it carried of insulting the incumbent government by the very fact that it was moved seemed to have been lost on the Prime Minister and the other leaders of the BJP because over these last 9 years of being used to sitting in seats of power they have developed the thick skin of a rhinoceros which it is difficult to penetrate. Only the people’s vote in upcoming elections will drill some sense in the BJP and the Saffron Brigade if they come a cropper at the hustings. Let us hope for this as we move towards the 2024 elections to the Lok Sabha. But in the meantime Manipur continues to burn for the neglect and lack of concern of Narendra Modi and his government towards the State.


Idhar Udhar