Opposition seeks all-party delegation visit to Manipur, seeks time frame for solution

Former CM of Manipur Okram Ibobi Singh along with senior Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh address a press conference at AICC Office in New Delhi on June 24. (Photo: IANS)

Former CM of Manipur Okram Ibobi Singh along with senior Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh address a press conference at AICC Office in New Delhi on June 24. (Photo: IANS)

NEW DELHI, JUNE 24 (MExN):  An all-party meeting was convened by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday to discuss on the situation in Manipur during which several opposition parties sought an all-party delegation visit to the northeastern state but the government remained non-committal. 

While the Congress demanded immediate sacking of chief minister N Biren Singh, the Samajwadi Party and a few others sought imposition of President's rule in the state that has witnessed sporadic violence in since May 3, reports from PTI and Indian Express stated. 

Many of those at the all-party meeting called by Shah – the first such since the violence began on May 3 — also asked the government to fix a time-frame for the plans it had to restore peace and normalcy in the state.

However, the government asserted it was doing its best to bring back normalcy there, sources said.

Speaking to reporters later, BJP Manipur in-charge Sambit Patra said Shah had told the meeting that since the violence began in the state, there has “not been a single day” when he did not speak to Modi on the situation or the PM did not give instructions. “Efforts to restore peace in the state are being taken on the instructions of the PM,” he said.

Those who attended the meeting included BJP president JP Nadda, former Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh (Congress), Derek O'Brien (TMC), Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma (NPP), Sikkim chief minister Prem Singh Tamang (Sikkim Krantikari Morcha), Birendra Prasad Baishya (Asom Gana Parishad), M Thambi Durai (AIADMK), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Pinaki Misra (BJD), Sanjay Singh (AAP), Manoj Jha (RJD) and Priyanka Chaturvedi (Shiv Sena).

Sources said the Union Home Secretary gave a detailed presentation on the steps taken by the government so far, including Shah’s visit to Manipur, and the committees set up. These include a 51-member peace committee and a Commission of Inquiry, headed by former Gauhati High Court chief justice Ajai Lamba, to probe the violence, PTI reported. 

"After the meeting of our leaders in Patna, within 24 hours the Opposition spoke in one united voice for Manipur, the northeast and India," O'Brien told reporters after the three-hour-long meeting held at the Parliament House complex.

The Trinamool Congress demanded an all-party delegation be sent to the violence-hit state within a week as it questioned the government's handling of the situation, wondering if the government was "trying to turn Manipur into Kashmir".

Ibobi Singh later told reporters that peace was not possible under the present state government headed chief minister N Biren Singh. He demanded Singh's immediate replacement. Singh said it was unfortunate that he was not allowed more time to put across his points towards the end of the meeting.

Asked whether the home minister presented a roadmap for peace, he replied in the negative.

The request for a visit by an all-party delegation was raised by most of the parties but the government remained non-committal, sources said.

RJD MP Manoj Jha said the entire opposition said in the meeting that the people have no trust on the person heading the state government and "you cannot have peace if that person is in-charge".

SP's Ram Gopal Yadav and one-two other leaders sought imposition of President's rule, alleging the "state government has failed" to maintain peace and the "administration has collapsed", the sources said.  Tiruchi Siva of the DMK said the opposition requested that an all-party delegation has to be sent to Manipur.

"It is not a law and order breakdown to be controlled by police and army or Assam Rifles. It is a failure of the governance in the state and the union government," he said. Siva said the home minister responded by saying the government has deployed more police and the opposition should trust him as he is looking after it.

The home minister asserted he will restore peace, Siva said, adding the opposition also expressed concern over Prime Minister Narendra Modi not expressing concern so far over the situation in the state.

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said that accountability for the crisis in Manipur begins with the Singh-led government. “I met with various Manipur groups and they all have echoed the same sentiments of distrust on the chief minister of Manipur,” she said after the meeting.