Who can douse the fire ? Who can stop the war ? Who can discipline Assam Rifles ? Who can enforce SoO ground rules ? Who can abrogate SoO ? Who can take legal action against ten Kuki separatist MLAs ? Who can drop two defiant Kuki ministers ? Who can open blocked National Highways ? Who can nullify demand for Separate Administration ? Who can trace the missing individuals ? Who can relieve the displaced villagers ? Who can restore peace in Manipur ? Who will hold talks with belligerent Kuki CSOs, defiant Kuki politicians and uncontrolled Kuki militants ? The answer is only one – that is Government of India.
Who will convince the Government of India ? Who will persuade the Government of India ? Who will influence the Government of India ? Which political party holds power in India ? The answer is only one – that is Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Then what is BJP in Manipur doing right now ? Of course, the ruling party has reacted occasionally to issues which hurt its interest and which affect its cadres. However, the core issues of the state are not addressed to, either because of the excessive loyalty or due to complete subordination to the high command. Where is the much proclaimed ‘Achhe Din’, who will bring the visionary ‘Sabka Vikas’ ?
Since the onset of the conflict in the state, Manipur BJP has been vehemently defending itself whenever any criticism comes on the party or its cadres. When the president and the general secretary of Manipur BJP were blamed for attending an election meeting in Guwahati in the first week of July last amid the chaos in the state, the party reacted sturdily through the media by denying the allegations flatly. When party strongmen Himanta Biswa Sharma and Ram Madhav were charged with having a tacit prepoll understanding with Kuki militants as revealed in a written statement of United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF), BJP Manipur took no time to react to the allegations as baseless. Party office bearers informed the media that the BJP state unit was monitoring the crisis day and night. Regarding the charges for failure to maintain SoO ground rules, the BJP spokespersons without any delay countered that SoO had started during the Congress regime. It defended allegations and charges hastily. However, the party never murmured a single word over the stoic silence of Indian Prime Minister in the midst of prevailing tragedy.
Symbolic search for missing MLAs recently by some people somewhere in Yairipok area with blowing of conch shells (Moibung) and beating of drums (Pung) was reacted swiftly by BJP Manipur through a press conference by its general secretary. When the public anger rose against the elected representatives for their failure to boldly stand for the united Manipur, they naturally asked the whereabouts of the missing leaders. Why did the BJP Manipur disrespect the people’s sentiments ?
When Rahul Gandhi visited the strife-torn state, BJP Manipur came out in the media to charge the congress leader as electoral opportunist. Recently, as many as nine BJP MLAs hastily lodged complaint against a lady social activist for her public speeches alleging wrong-doings by elected representatives. But unfortunately, no BJP MLA reacted against the ten Kuki MLAs who formally demanded splintering of Manipur territory. No BJP cadre opposed the move by seven BJP MLAs and three other supporters who submitted written representation to Union Home Minister for a ‘Separate Administration’. When BJP MLA Paolienlal Haokip put up the dangerous proposal of dividing Manipur into three Union Territories, no BJP MLA or BJP spokesperson reacted to it.
It is worthy of appreciation that Manipur BJP always dances to the tune of its high command, as if ‘Party First’ instead of ‘Nation First’ has become its dictum in Manipur. When Narendra Modi angrily condemned the May 4 viral video incident, many BJP MLAs and partymen spontaneously followed suit. Some MLAs even came out in streets and joined the protest against the incident. Partymen and elected representatives of the saffron brigade could not even acknowledge the numerous instances of barbarism happened since the beginning of the conflict. Moreover, they did not ponder over the fact that the incident was a simple act of retaliation perpetrated by an angry mob. When three individuals including father-son duo were brutally butchered by Kuki militants at Kwakta, no BJP cadre expressed condemnation as they did on the viral video incident.
Poor and helpless people are suffering in the peripheral villages of Manipur valley. Youths are defending the territory risking their lives. Women are spending sleepless nights in streets shouting for a united Manipur, taking care of their unarmed sons and checking the one-sided central security forces. On the other side, some MLAs and party cadres are seen manning relief camps, distributing MGNREGA job cards, Health cards, attending swasti pujas at relief camps, so on and so forth, while some others are never seen in public.
Amidst the hue and cry over demand for special assembly session in state and the continued pandemonium over Manipur issue in parliament, the MPs representing the people of Manipur are never spotted opening their mouth on behalf of their people. When his residence was torched by the furious mob, the next day Inner Manipur MP reacted angrily saying that there was complete failure of law and order in state. People of Manipur are anticipating a certain kind of articulation from the MPs of Manipur on the prevailing mayhem in Manipur, but to no avail.
Since the start of the turbulence in Manipur, a very few MLAs from the ruling brigade were seen talking big in the media. People thankfully welcomed their extraordinary commitment, however the next moment they also withered away like the bubbles. During the hectic race for chief ministership, people could witness BJP forerunners who posed themselves as close mates of the high command. Now when the state burns, some of the state BJP strongmen are completely missing from public view.
This writer is not taking on the BJP for any kind of political mileage. It is only an attempt to awaken the responsible individuals to the rousing public sentiments. Parental role of BJP Manipur is the need of the hour. As for the opposition Congress party, its MLAs have clearly expressed their stand on the prevailing issue.
At this crucial hour, the ball is in the court of Government of India. So far, the Indian Prime Minister has never gone beyond the tag of rights violation following a viral video, while Home Minister seems lingering on the assumption of being a communal clash between two communities due to scheduled tribe status demand by Meiteis. Now, the Government of India particularly the Prime Minister has to accept the narrative of external aggression from across the border. He has to understand the genesis of the issue in Manipur, and diagnose the ill-designs of the infiltrated communities. As the BJP is in power in both the centre and the state, its Manipur unit has a big role in awakening the central leadership on what is going on in Manipur and to pursue for a viable solution. Only BJP in Manipur can convince, influence and persuade the Government of India to end the crisis, provided it is sincere, bold and patriotic. All eyes are on Manipur BJP now.
(The writer is Imphal-based Senior Columnist available at firstname.lastname@example.org)