Decoding the BJP blame game over mishandling of Manipur crisis

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah try to deflect attention by dwelling on past lapses by Congress regimes.

Published : Aug 24, 2023 11:00 IST - 5 MINS READ

Home Minister Amit Shah addresses the Lok Sabha as Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on, during the monsoon session on August 10.

Home Minister Amit Shah addresses the Lok Sabha as Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on, during the monsoon session on August 10. | Photo Credit: ANI

The opposition has rapped the BJP government at the Centre over its handling of the Manipur crisis and repeatedly attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his silence on the issue.

Nearly 20 days after the monsoon session of Parliament began on July 20, Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah spoke on the issue while replying to a no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha.

Prior to this, the government and the opposition could not agree to a debate on Manipur over differences over rules and in calling the Prime Minister for reply, apart from internal disagreement within the opposition on issuing a joint statement.

“Racial violence”

In their statements, both Modi and Shah talked about violence in Manipur in the past during Congress regimes and flagged the recurrence of “racial violence” in the State for a long time. While NCP chief Sharad Pawar took a swipe at Modi for not considering the situation in Manipur serious enough to make a visit to the troubled State, Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi accused the Prime Minister of misleading the nation. The opposition parties also slammed Modi and Shah for drawing parallels between violence against women in other States with the horrific events in Manipur.

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Speaking to Frontline on August 16, BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh ruled out the possibility of Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh’s resignation or his removal. “Why [should we] remove the person who is engaged in improving the situation on the ground? He has played a key role in all corrective measures being taken there,” he said and claimed that the situation had improved.

Chugh added: “Lives have been lost, which is painful. The situation has now improved and is now under control. Peace has been restored. Law and order is being maintained strictly.”

Opposition leaders protest outside Parliament on July 24 demanding that the Prime Minister speak on the Manipur situation.

Opposition leaders protest outside Parliament on July 24 demanding that the Prime Minister speak on the Manipur situation. | Photo Credit: AP

On August 15, mentioning Manipur in his Independence Day Speech, Modi said: “In the past few weeks, particularly in Manipur and some other parts of India, there has been a spell of violence, where many people lost their lives, and the dignity of mothers and daughters was violated. However, in the last few days, we have been hearing continuous reports of peace, and the entire nation stands with the people of Manipur. The people of Manipur have maintained peace in the past few days, and they should continue to foster that peace, as it is the path to resolution. Both the State and Central governments are working together to find solutions to the issues and will continue to do so.”

Earlier, on August 10, while replying to the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, Modi said that the violence in Manipur was saddening and the crimes against women unacceptable. He said the Central and State governments would work to ensure that the guilty were punished. He also assured the people of Manipur that the nation and the House stood by them.

Blaming the Congress

He also said that the situation in Manipur was being presented in a way that the conflict was recent and blamed the Congress for being the root cause of all issues in Manipur. He alleged that when the Congress ruled the State, every institution operated at the beck and call of extremist organisations and even putting up a photograph of Mahatma Gandhi in government offices was forbidden.

He also said that singing the national anthem was forbidden in Manipur schools and a campaign was initiated to burn library books. He also mentioned the bombing of the statue of Subhas Chandra Bose at the Museum of Azad Hind Fauj in Moirang. Modi cited examples of extremist activities in the region during Congress rule, especially the bombing of an ISKCON temple in Imphal that led to loss of lives, and how protection money was paid to extremists by government officers.

On August 9, while speaking during the debate on the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, Amit Shah said that the violence in Manipur was a “situational racial violence” and that it should not be made into a political issue. He said: “No one can agree with the violence in Manipur, no one can support these incidents. We are ashamed as a society for this but doing politics on these incidents is more shameful.” He also said the Prime Minister had been in touch with him since day one and even inquired about the situation at 4 a.m.

Also Read | Targeting of Kukis the main reason behind Manipur violence

He said that even though there were many incidents of violence in Manipur in the past, no Home Ministers had stayed there. “I stayed in Manipur for three days and Nityanand Rai [Minister of State] continuously stayed there for 23 days.”

He claimed that the reasons for the unrest were influx of “Kuki brothers” from Myanmar into Mizoram and Manipur, the High Court’s recommendation of ST status to Meiteis, and narcotics smuggling from Myanmar. He clarified that the government did not intend to change the demographics of Manipur, but added, “we want to make all efforts to stop infiltration and establish peace”.

On July 20, just before the monsoon session began amid widespread outrage over a video of two Kuki women being paraded naked in Manipur, Modi said in a statement: “My heart is filled with sorrow and anger over the incident in Manipur. This incident is a shameful act for any civilised society.... I appeal to all Chief Ministers to strengthen law and order in their States to ensure the safety and protection of our mothers and sisters. Whether the incident happens in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, or Manipur, in any corner of India, in any State, rising above political disputes and maintaining the significance of the rule of law and the respect for women is crucial. I want to assure the citizens of this country that no wrongdoer will be spared. What has happened to the daughters of Manipur can never be forgiven.”

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