Home » Don’t cast negative votes, only the BJP can bring peace to Manipur, says Thounaojam Basanta Kumar

Don’t cast negative votes, only the BJP can bring peace to Manipur, says Thounaojam Basanta Kumar

by Aribam Bishwajit
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Don’t cast negative votes, only the BJP can bring peace to Manipur, says Thounaojam Basanta Kumar

By- Aribam Bishwajit
Imphal, April 12:

Amidst the whirlwind of electoral activities engulfing Manipur, the political landscape is ablaze with the fervor of campaigns. As the state grapples with over 11 months of incessant violence, this election stands as a crucial juncture poised to reshape Manipur’s trajectory, heralding a new era of optimism and progress.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government has faced criticism for its perceived inability to quell the ongoing violence. Many experts have opined that the party struggled to finalize its candidate for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2024. However, after much speculation and deliberation, the current Education Minister of Manipur, Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh, has emerged as the BJP’s chosen candidate for the polls.
In an interview with Imphal Times, Basanta Kumar passionately defended the BJP, asserting that it is the sole political entity capable of bringing lasting peace to Manipur.
Amidst this electoral landscape, several candidates are vying for change and representation in Manipur’s political spectrum. Dr. Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, an Associate Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, carries the banner of the Congress Party. Maheshwar Thounaojam represents the Republican Party of India (Athawale), while three independent contenders—RK Somendro (Kaiku), Moirangthem Tomtomsana Nongshaba, and Haorungbam Sarat—also join the fray for the Inner Manipur seat.
The electoral battlegrounds are set for a showdown on April 19, with the Inner Manipur Parliamentary constituency being the focal point. Following this, the Outer Manipur Parliamentary constituency is slated for elections on April 26, marking crucial moments in Manipur’s democratic journey.
Q: Despite having a Member of Parliament from Manipur, the Bharatiya Janata Party hasn’t been able to ensure complete peace in the region over the past eleven months. Now, the public is questioning why they should vote for the BJP. As a BJP candidate, what is your response to this sentiment?
A: True. The ongoing unrest in Manipur, extending over a troubling span of 10 months, is indeed regrettable. Both the state and central governments are actively engaged in addressing this issue. It’s crucial to acknowledge the earnest efforts being made by the government. Resolving conflicts, especially when rooted in differences of opinion or misunderstandings between communities, inevitably demands time and careful intervention. Tragically, this period has been marked by numerous distressing incidents, including the burning of homes, loss of life, injuries, forced displacement, and the establishment of relief camps.
The resolution of conflicts, be it on a global scale like world wars or within the local context of Manipur such as the Kuki-Naga clash, has historically required significant time—often exceeding eight months. While I refrain from labeling the current ten-month duration as either lengthy or brief, it’s evident that concerted efforts are underway. Regarding the responsibilities and duties of the former Lok Sabha representative, it’s important to recognize that they were tasked with specific duties and obligations. Therefore, commenting on their roles without full understanding may not be appropriate.
Considering he served as a Minister of State, it would be prudent to direct inquiries to him regarding certain matters. As a candidate in the upcoming 18th Lok Sabha election scheduled for April 19, I am firmly committed to prioritizing the resolution of the current issue if elected by the public. I urge the public to place their trust in this commitment. Drawing from my experience as an IPS officer, I will strive to serve with the utmost integrity. Additionally, my tenure as Education Minister saw substantial improvements in the state’s government schools and education system. Therefore, if elected as a Member of Parliament, I will take responsibility for resolving the issue at hand.
When the Bharatiya Janata Party forms the government at the Center, it’s important to consider how parliamentary proceedings are conducted. Merely shouting or escalating issues in the parliament, especially by opposition representatives, may not necessarily lead to the resolution of those issues. We have previously witnessed competent members such as Shashi Tharoor, Gaurav Gogoi, and Mallikarjun Kharge raising the issue in the parliament. It was not fruitful. Given the present circumstances, electing a candidate who will be part of the ruling government offers the chance to engage in constructive discussions, lobby for solutions, and advocate for addressing the root causes of the issues in Manipur. Through this process, we can work towards peace in the region. I urge the public to trust in this approach. Progress towards peace is gradually being made, and with the involvement of our esteemed Prime Minister and Home Minister, I am confident that a resolution for Manipur can be achieved. I am committed to taking responsibility in this endeavor.
Q: Dr. Angomcha Bimol Akoijam, the Congress Candidate and your opponent in the inner Manipur parliamentary constituency, has frequently commented on the ongoing conflict in Manipur. He stated that the BJP Government is not “unable” but “unwilling” to control the situation. What are your thoughts on his remarks?
A: While it’s valid for a candidate to express their perspective, a more informed commentary would be appreciated if they had firsthand experience on the ground with the issue. Dr. Angomcha Bimol Akoijam primarily resides in Delhi and has been voicing his opinions in seminar halls, conferences, and social media platforms. However, his absence from locations like the Moreh borders suggests a theoretical understanding of matters such as illegal immigration rather than a practical, firsthand insight.
However, it’s ultimately up to the public to discern whether Dr. Angomcha Bimol Akoijam engages practically in the field. Despite his recent return to Manipur following an extended stay in Delhi, his comments appear to be more theoretical than practical. In contrast, I am actively involved in addressing illegal immigration as part of the cabinet sub-committee. I’ve personally visited border areas to gain a firsthand understanding of the situation and have invested time in studying it thoroughly to find viable solutions. I firmly believe that thoughtful analysis coupled with collective action is key to resolving this issue. As for Dr. Akoijam’s remarks, I refrain from commenting on his comment.
Q: During this election period, there haven’t been any reported instances of firing between the two communities, despite it having persisted for over 9 months. Now, the public views this cessation of hostilities as a clear indication that the Government was responsible for instigating the conflict. What are your thoughts on this?
A: People hold diverse perceptions, and we can’t definitively label one viewpoint as correct and the other as incorrect. However, based on my assessment, in the recent assembly session, the Government made some significant decisions, such as resolving to withdraw the Suspension of Operations (SoO) and implementing the National Register of Citizens. The decision to withdraw SoO could be a contributing factor since its extension hasn’t been confirmed. Even though the withdrawal hasn’t occurred, the fact that it hasn’t been continued could also play a role.
There are individuals who support the government and those who do not. Some are inclined to blame the government, while others refrain from doing so. However, speaking with honesty and sincerity, I must acknowledge that since the outbreak of violence on May 3, 2023, the State Government, in collaboration with the Central Government, has made concerted efforts to manage the situation effectively. We have communicated to the government the root causes of these issues, including illegal immigration, the war on drugs, deforestation, among others. The central government has provided a comprehensive statement in parliament after thorough deliberation on these matters. Hon’ble Home Minister Amit Shah and Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi have already addressed these concerns in parliament.
Some members of the public have expressed that PM Narendra Modi does not speak about Manipur. While I respect people’s opinions, I want to offer a different perspective. Hon’ble Prime Minister, on the parliamentary floor, expressed his deep attachment to Manipur. He mentioned that the people of Manipur, especially its women, sisters, and daughters, hold a special place in his heart and that he stands in solidarity with them. I urge the people of Manipur to recall his statement. He is not someone who overlooks or disregards Manipur. Resolving the current situation takes time, and I want to emphasize this point.
Q: Why are you pursuing a position as a Member of Parliament when you’re already serving as the Education Minister in the State Government? Do you believe you could make a greater impact as an MP compared to being a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manipur?
A: In 2016, I made the decision to take voluntary retirement from my position as an IPS officer, despite having eight years left in my service. This choice was driven by my belief in the ideology of the BJP, where the nation takes precedence over the party, and personal interests come last. My focus has always been on serving the nation and the party’s directives. Hence, when the Central Election Committee, led by the Hon’ble Prime Minister, the Hon’ble President of the party, and the Hon’ble Home Minister, selected me as the MP candidate for the upcoming Lok Sabha election, I felt deeply honored and humbled.
I am committed to working diligently alongside the Hon’ble Chief Minister and our party workers to secure victory in the 1-inner Manipur Parliamentary constituency seat. My goal is to contribute to the building of a stronger India and a peaceful Manipur. I am determined to give my best efforts towards achieving these objectives.
Q. What message do you want to convey to the voters of Manipur regarding the upcoming 18th Lok Sabha election?
A: My appeal to the voters of Manipur is to refrain from casting negative votes out of dissatisfaction with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Instead, let’s focus on casting positive votes that aim to bring peace to Manipur. Who can effectively bring about this peace? It’s the BJP, poised to lead the government in the upcoming election. We need an MP who can engage in constructive dialogue with top leaders, not someone who resorts to arguments or shouting matches in parliament. History has shown that mere shouting has little impact.
As a BJP candidate, I urge voters to choose a representative who can communicate effectively, backed by substantive work, on-field experience, and a collaborative approach. Let’s vote positively to foster peace, steering clear of controversies. My belief lies in actions over words. During my tenure as Education Minister, I strived to lead by example through my work. This principle guides my life, emphasizing the importance of demonstrating rather than merely speaking. I appeal to voters to carefully consider who can truly bring peace to Manipur and facilitate the return of displaced individuals to their homes. Let’s make a decisive choice at the polls.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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