Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party are often justifiably criticised for being obsequious towards the prime minister. The recent statement by the chief minister of Manipur, N. Biren Singh, praising Narendra Modi for his foresight and concern for Manipur and its people, is one instance of such nauseating sycophancy. None can, of course, accuse Mr Singh of making hollow noises: he provided his kind of evidence to bolster his claims. Among other things, he praised the prime minister for the implementation of the inner line permit, the rechristening of Mount Harriet in Andamans as Mount Manipur as well as the lifting of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from the state as proof of the special niche that Manipur supposedly occupies in Mr Modi’s heart. The people of Manipur, Mr Singh insisted, should return the honour and respect to the supreme leader. Facts, unfortunately, do not bear out Mr Singh’s claims. AFSPA, to cite one example, has had to be reimposed in Manipur since October; only 19 police stations in Meitei-dominated Imphal remain out of its ambit. What clear-eyed and conscientious citizens of India and Manipur would find even more outrageous is that Mr Singh was praising a leader, a prime minister, who has not felt the need to visit a strife-torn state that has been on fire since May. Despite the deaths, displacement and other horrors, Mr Modi has chosen to speak about Manipur in public only twice. Shockingly, Manipur’s legislators were not granted an audience by Mr Modi. In fact, the prime minister’s silence has led to allegations of Mr Modi being indifferent to Manipur’s plight.
The real picture is thus different from the one that Mr Singh sought to paint. The reason for this embellishment is obvious. Mr Singh’s political survival after his disastrous performance in diffusing a crisis would depend on the powers that be in Delhi. Striving to have the prime minister on his side thus matters. But what this episode also exposes is the complete disregard for compunction and morality on the part of elected representatives. Manipur’s chief minister has proved that there is quite a resemblance between him and his idol — the prime minister — when it comes to failing to be empathetic to the people whom they claim to serve.