Manipur’s Knee-jerk Reaction

In another knee-jerk reaction, the Manipur government has taken a decision asking the Nagaland Chief Minister and other NPF party leaders from Nagaland to defer the planned visit to Senapati, Manipur for the launch of the NPF party unit in the State of Manipur. This decision of the Manipur cabinet was relayed in a message to authorities in Nagaland. The launch of the NPF in Manipur was widely publicized and May 28, 2011 (Saturday) was the date set for the visit of Nagaland Chief Minister and his entourage including party President Dr Shurhozelie. This last minute interruption of the Ibobi Singh led government is unfortunate and could have been avoided. However if past incidents are to be taken account of, the stand of the Manipur government is hardly surprising. All of us will be aware of the hullabaloo created against the proposed visit of NSCN/GPRN General Secretary Th. Muivah to his native village Somdal, in Manipur. Then again a few years back we had a similar knee-jerk reaction from across the border when the Manipur Legislative Assembly went to the extent of condemning what it perceived as the ‘clandestine entry’ of Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio to Senapati district of Manipur. In fact at that time, Rio’s convoy was only passing to get to a village in Nagaland. That particular episode was also quite ridiculous and unnecessary situation was created by the Manipur government.
Coming to the May 28 visit and launch of the NPF in Manipur, the communiqué from the Manipur Chief Secretary to the Nagaland CM Secretariat made a request to the Nagaland CM to defer the proposed visit on May 28 citing “volatile law and order situation” including the scheduled talks between the UNC, Union Home Ministry and Manipur government on May 30 at Senapati. While asking for deferment, this communiqué has not put forward any suggestion or alternative date. Quite unnecessarily, the official communiqué to the Nagaland government has also made a dodgy reference to the four month long blockade of NH-39 and 53 during 2010. As such the motive of the Congress led Manipur government is highly suspect as it is apparent that they want to project the visit of Rio and his colleagues along communal lines. Further what is clearly misleading is that while the official communiqué from the Manipur government has requested deferment of the May 28 visit, another press communiqué opposing the NPF party in Manipur was signed by the chief minister himself, following an all party meeting. So what exactly is the stand of the Manipur government? This should be clearly communicated.
It becomes quite obvious that the present Manipur government wants nothing to do with the NPF. The latest move to oppose the entry of the NPF in Manipur is not only disrespectful but it is plain undemocratic of an elected government to oppose such peaceful assembly. The right to form a party and contest election is a fundamental right under the constitution and this right cannot be denied irrespective of caste, creed, tribe or community. The manner in which the political establishment in Manipur is reacting is as though the Naga people are waging a war against the State. If some section of Nagas in Manipur feel that they need political representation, what is wrong in this peaceful, democratic exercise? By opposing the formation of the NPF, it is only going to further alienate the hills people from Manipur’s political mainstream. Rather than put hurdles in its way, the Congress led Manipur government should do the sensible thing of recognizing the aspiration of the Nagas in Manipur for genuine political representation whether it comes through the NPF or any other party.