Talks and venue

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A few questions have come to the fore in the recent endeavour to engage United Naga Council (UNC) and the state government in a dialogue. First, what is there to talk about in the issue of lifting the economic blockade which has been in force since November 1 last. Second, why should the ‘venue’ of talks really matter? Third, why is the central government reluctant to use the ‘special leverage’ it has on the political bosses of UNC? We could go on raising several other questions. We had already given our piece of mind on the first question, in this same column. There is nothing democratic or political about an economic blockade. There is simply no justification for imposing an economic blockade in a state. The Supreme Court was very clear on this. More than two and half months have gone by and still the economic blockade is in place defying logic and the law of the land. It is not only causing untold sufferings to the common people in both valley and hills but also threatening the social fabric and the shared history of economic interdependence. Yes, the imposition of economic blockade is different from earlier blockades with bullets flying around and deadly ambushes, and of course a steep rise in the number of vehicles burnt. Other than comparing notes on the impact of the economic blockade, there is really nothing to talk about. The question of ‘venue’ of the talks is indeed interesting. Here also, several other questions crop up. Is there a ‘foreign’ entity or body among the main actors in the proposed tripartite talks? Is it a question of choosing a neutral venue or taking a definitive political stance for setting terms? New Delhi seems to have passed the buck to Imphal, based on its much stated position of ‘state subject’ and also with an eye on the ensuing state assembly elections. As the economic blockade is imposed in the national highways of the state, the talks should happen within the borders of the state, but in a neutral zone. Senapati is definitely out of question as the owners of the economic blockade UNC is headquartered there and also because UNC has consistently refused to accept the authority of Manipur government. Sometimes, it rather seems self contradictory on the part of a group who continually places its demands at the very doorsteps of a government which it chooses to ignore. And it runs from pillar to post in New Delhi to seek central intervention for its grievances in the state of Manipur. Now again, the reluctance of the BJP government at New Delhi to use its ‘special leverage’ reeks of political opportunism in the backdrop of an ‘imagined’ political space in view of the ensuing Manipur assembly elections. Somehow, the ruling party at the Centre has failed to grasp the changing political winds in the state as a defiant Congress government took a tough stance against detractors and champions of disintegration. BJP seems to think that it can still bank on the plank of rooting out a corrupt state government in the ensuing elections. Yes, everyone is fed up of the uninterrupted fifteen years of corruption and nepotism under chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and had been longing for a change in the event of a viable alternative. But, BJP has failed to capitalize on the corruption scams haunting the state in the light of a favourable government at the Centre or to prop up an attractive option before the Manipur public. The party seems to have missed the broader picture in Manipur where people zealously guard the edifice called Manipur and would thwart any attempt to disintegrate it. They are even willing to lay down their lives for the sake of territorial integrity. They hate and detest corruption, but they love Manipur more.

Leader Writer: Irengbam Arun

Source:  Imphal Free Press

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