Imphal, Dec. 10: Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi today urged the people of Manipur to work and stand together for progress.
Rahul, who was on a daylong visit here today, attended a convention of elected members of autonomous district councils and panchayats at Hafta Kangjeibung in Imphal city.
Before Rahul’s speech, chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh spoke about the problems in Manipur arising out of the NSCN (I-M)’s demand for Naga integration and the demand for a Kuki state.
“Manipur, a princely state, was merged into the Indian Union on October 15, 1949. Some community-based militant groups are making different demands. The Centre is holding talks with NSCN (I-M), NSCN (K) and Kuki militants. The outcome of the talks should not create another problem,” Ibobi Singh urged Rahul.
The United Naga Council, the apex body of Nagas in Manipur, is demanding an alternative administrative arrangement for Nagas in Manipur outside the purview of the state government and Kukis demanding a separate state.
Ibobi Singh tried to convey the message that disturbing Manipur’s boundary would create another problem. However, Rahul did not make any comment in reply to the chief minister’s plea.
Rahul, who addressed the 20,000-strong crowd for about 25 minutes, did not mention anything on the issue of militancy or the demands of the Kukis and Nagas. He spoke about his vision, development and role of the elected members in taking the country forward.
He stressed the need for devolution of powers to local bodies for development at the grassroots. He also urged ministers, MLAs, MPs and local body members to effectively implement the UPA government’s flagship programmes and other development activities.
“There is no point in electing local bodies if responsibility and power are not given to them. There is no power in the hands of local bodies in many states, including Kashmir, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh,” Rahul said.
Listing the central government’s welfare programmes, he said once the direct cash transfer scheme, which he called a powerful political tool, became operational, leakage of funds would stop. Rahul said the Congress was the only party that gave all states equal importance.
The general secretary also spoke about “principles and rules” of politicians and said many did not have principles and vision. “My principle is to meet as many people as possible and hear their voices so as to build a future of the country where everyone participates in governance.”
Rahul further said he tried to respond to the voices of people with development activities. Before leaving, he also interacted with members of Youth Congress and National Students’ Union of India, the students’ wing of the party.
Tight security measures were put in place during Rahul’s stay in the state capital, with no vehicle or pedestrians allowed to move along his travel routes. Police also closed down shops along the way for security reasons.