When Prime Minister Narendra Modi finally spoke on Manipur on Thursday, it was labelled as more shameful than his silence because of the attempt to camouflage his failure as a systemic deficiency of states that needed to handle law-and-order issues more effectively.
Instead of expressing remorse over the barbarism of parading two women naked in Manipur, the Prime Minister demonstrated craftiness to portray the collapse of constitutional order in Manipur as a routine criminal incident, clubbing it with occurrences in Congress-ruled states like Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and ordering the chief ministers to be more careful.
The Congress questioned Modi’s sincerity by pointing out that he spent barely 36 seconds on Manipur in his customary pre-session address to the media and the content came infected with cheap politicking. Congress leaders emphatically rejected his insinuations, pointing out that the governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh had quickly acted in recent cases of crimes against women.
Modi, who claimed to be filled with pain and anger, had started cheerfully by commenting on “sawan” (rainy season), upcoming bills and the fascination of the youth with the digital world. He dwelt on these issues for eight minutes before spending 36 seconds on Manipur.
“Your articulation is more shameful than your silence,” said Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate, declaring: “Aap ek kayar aur nirlazz Pradhan Mantri hain (You are a cowardly and shameless Prime Minister).”
Referring to the Prime Minister choosing to indulge in petty politicking instead of offering an unequivocal condemnation of the attack on the two women, Congress media department head Pawan Khera said: “India needs a Prime Minister with a heart.”
Manipur chief minister N. Biren Singh on Thursday confirmed that hundreds of similar incidents had happened in the state in the past two months, underlining the enormity of the Prime Minister’s apathy. Modi not only ignored countless requests from the Congress to issue an appeal for peace, he even refused to meet a delegation from Manipur that kept waiting in Delhi till he flew to the US. Even after returning to India, Modi launched election campaigns for 2024 and gave sermons on all subjects except Manipur.
Congress leaders argued that a timely intervention by the Prime Minister would have helped in arresting the crisis in Manipur.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said: “Humanity has died in Manipur. The Modi government and the BJP have changed democracy and the rule of law into mobocracy by destroying the delicate social fabric of the state. Modiji, India will never forgive your silence. If there is any conscience or an iota of shame left in your government, then you should speak about Manipur in Parliament and tell the nation what happened, without blaming others for your dual incompetence — both at the Centre and in the state. You have abdicated your constitutional responsibility.”
Kharge later demanded a full-fledged debate in both Houses of Parliament on Manipur.
Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh said: “After more than 1,800 hours of an incomprehensible and unforgivable silence, the Prime Minister finally spoke on Manipur for a sum total of 30 seconds. After which, the PM tried to divert attention from the colossal governance failures and the humanitarian tragedy in Manipur by equating (it with) crimes against women in other states, especially those governed by the Opposition, while ignoring atrocities on women in states like Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat.”
Ramesh added: “Firstly, he completely sidestepped the issue of the ongoing ethnic conflict. He has made no appeal for peace, nor asked for the chief minister of Manipur to step down. While he has commented on this one video that has surfaced, this is only one example of the hundreds of incidents of barbaric violence in the state of Manipur. Secondly, the PM tried to equate systemic and ongoing violence in Manipur with cases of crimes against women in other states. The perpetrators of these crimes have been arrested in Congress-governed states within 24 hours.”
Both the Mahila Congress and the Youth Congress staged demonstrations against the crimes against women in Manipur. Mahila Congress chief Netta D’Souza said women of the country were ashamed that Modi was the Prime Minister.