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Manipur Social Crisis: Poverty of Commonsense in Manipur BJP

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Manipur Social Crisis: Poverty of Commonsense in Manipur BJP

By – Amar Yumnam
Imphal, July 8:

The recent maiden speech of Dr. Bimol Akoijam in the Lower House of the Indian Parliament has attracted many comments. Of these, I would take up two. First is the reaction of the top BJP politicians of Manipur immediately the morning of the next day while the speech was just made at the previous midnight hour. Second is the Editorial of The Hindu international daily in its 6 July 2024 edition.
Dr. Bimol in his short speech had raised the issue of lack of attention by the Prime Minister in the more than a year long inter-ethnic killings in Manipur, which naturally attracted the question as to whether Manipur was a province of India or otherwise. He had also put into question the relevance and necessity of colonial approach to the problems of Manipur; the non-mentioning of the Manipur crisis in the Presidential Opening Address had pained the minds and hearts of the people of the State. He had also identified the immediacy of attending to the needs of the displaced people staying in the Relief Camps as a policy priority.
Reacting to this intervention of Dr Bimol, the political leaders (I am using the term political leaders and not public leaders) of the BJP put in the public domain that Dr Bimol did not raise any important issue of Manipur and stated that his submission to the Parliament was nothing more than a noise. In a way different from this, The Hindu editorial titled ‘Walk the talk: PM Modi finally acknowledges Manipur crisis: now he should push for peace’ opened with this first sentence: “A day after a searing speech by debutant Congress MP, Bimol Akoijam, who questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on the situation in Manipur, Mr. Modi responded by making his first substantial remarks in Parliament on the ethnic conflict that broke out over a year ago. ……..Manipur, unlike what Mr. Modi asserts, is not any close to normalcy.”
Now the question before me is which one of these two reactions I value. I would say that I do value the Editorial while the reactions of the local BJP leaders do cause me social pain. Let me concentrate on the comments of the party leaders.
Let me assert that Dr. Bimol was not speaking anything against India or against Manipur but appropriately highlighted the issues needing urgent attention in the State he represents in the House. Here it has been almost like the government and the party in power have not bothered to apply their mind on the social crisis. In the more than one year of the crisis, the Chief Minister did not meet the Prime Minister even once. Despite the deaths and the displacements of life and property, the PM did not mention Manipur even once during the past more than one year coupling his non-visit to Manipur. The socio-economic costs at both household and social levels of this crisis in a region endeavouring to develop are tremendous and highly detrimental to progress and social stability. While there were diversionary statements and functioning, the BJP government did not make any meaningful application of mind and evolve policies accordingly.
Now looking at the reactions of the BJP to the MP’s intervention in the Parliament, it is as if not only the non-application of mind, the provincial government and the local BJP are incapable of any application of mind to any issue. While they were not able to bring the crisis to the attention of the Union Government, they should rather be grateful that it has necessarily been put in a way which cannot be ignored any longer by the government of their party at the Centre. This way they could have proved themselves to be concerned with the issues of the people of Manipur, but they behaved otherwise. This behavioural manifestation of the BJP leaders (MLAs and Ministers) establish that they are political players and not public leaders. Anyway, the recent winning by the Congress candidates of both the seats of Parliament by unprecedented margins have shown that they are not public leaders.
The pain caused by the local BJP personnel is accentuated by the response of the PM in the Upper House. After more than a year, he did mention the name Manipur. But there was no reflection of his taking the Manipuris as his own children; he spoke as if the people as a group different from his. He also referred to a crisis which had lasted half a decade in the past. Was he meaning to say that you Manipuris are still uncivilised and have to evolve to a superior structure by killing each other for years? He even misinformed the House by mentioning scenarios of returns to normalcy by mentioning pictures different from the ground reality. The BJP did focus on nation-building in a broader sense in its Manifesto for the 2014 elections, but have completely worked against what was emphasised in the run up to the elections. These naturally raise critical issues relating to state and governance in Manipur inter alia. As these relate by and large to the wider Indian scenario, let me quote from the widely acclaimed just published book of Kartik Muralidharan titled Accelerating India’s Development: A State-Led Roadmap for Effective Governance: “When the state promises more than it can deliver, it is often forced to break some promises, which contributes to a trust deficit between citizens and the government. Trust deficits further weaken state effectiveness by limiting the state’s ability to negotiate policy changes with stakeholders.” Build the capability of the state to apply the mind to issues with honesty. In this process, the guiding morality of the thinking process should be to use peace to achieve objectives and conflicts should not command the sole instrumental value. Here lies the role of the state.

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