The Congress on Tuesday blamed the BJP’s divisive politics for the turmoil in Manipur, telling President Droupadi Murmu about the failure of the state government to restore normality.
While a delegation led by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge explained to the President how the trouble escalated and the state machinery demonstrated a serious governance deficit, the memorandum submitted by the party demanded immediate rehabilitation measures and a high-level enquiry commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge.
Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh, addressing a news conference later along with leaders from Manipur, said: “Manipur was burning 22 years ago too…. Then Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister. Today also Manipur is burning and now Narendra Modi is Prime Minister. The reason behind this is the BJP’s politics of divisiveness and polarisation. Manipur has been burning since May 3 but the Prime Minister and the home minister were busy with the Karnataka elections.”
Claiming that Congress chief minister Ibobi Singh ruled Manipur for 15 years continuously ensuring peace and harmony, Ramesh said: “Just 15 months ago, the BJP got a huge mandate in Manipur with the help of the same groups that are now being labelled as militant groups and blamed for spreading violence. There was a secret agreement of the BJP with these very groups. Why did it enter into a pact with them to win polls? We had raised this issue with the Election Commission.”
Singh, who was present at the news conference, said: “What Manipur suffered in the last few days was never witnessed in the history of the state. It is very unfortunate that many people from the two communities — Meitei and Kuki — have died. The official death toll is 74, which does not include the missing persons and the figures of Monday and Tuesday. The government is not making efforts to hand over the bodies of the victims to their family members. I don’t know what is the government’s intention.”
He added: “Does the government want people to kill each other? We thought the Prime Minister and the home minister campaigning in the Karnataka elections would rush to Manipur after May 10. But it took nearly a month for the home minister to visit Manipur while the state governments as well as the Centre remained mute spectators. We don’t know whether there is any hidden agenda behind the BJP’s silence on this sensitive issue. But we want the people of Manipur to be saved.”
Claiming that the toll might have crossed 100, Singh said: “More than 2,000 houses have been burnt down in the hills as well as the valley. House owners are forced to take shelter in relief camps. Civil society organisations and NGOs are making arrangements for essential items. The condition of the relief camps is horrible. We have appealed to the President to save Manipur. We hope the home minister will meet us tomorrow (Wednesday).”
Congress’s Manipur in- charge Bhakt Charan Das said the situation could have been brought under control had the state machinery acted efficiently and sincerely. “But the BJP is known for spreading communal riots. That is how they have been able to form the government. Violence has been the medium of this party. Winning elections by spreading fear and terror and exploiting the emotions of people has been its strategy. This is not a new thing. Is Manipur part of India or not? Why is the government so indifferent? People’s hearts lie broken”.