Congress, though in power for long, has failed to deliver
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday played the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act card in Manipur and promised voters that if her Trinamool Congress came to power in the State, it would not allow the “draconian law” and the “army rule” to continue.
At an election rally here, Ms. Banerjee urged voters to throw the Congress out of power. The TMC is contesting 47 of the 60 seats in Manipur, which is going to the polls on January 28. Both parties are allies in the UPA government at the Centre.
“I met Ms Irom Sharmila [who has been on a hunger strike for 11 years seeking repeal of the AFSPA]. She told me that the AFSPA is draconian law. If TMC comes to power, I can assure [you], we will fight. We will not give consent for continuance of the draconian law,” Ms Banrejee said amidst thunderous clapping of hands and waving of the party flags.
Immediately on her arrival, Ms Banerjee drove straight to the J.N. Institute of Medical Sciences in Imphal to meet Ms. Sharmila, who has been on a fast-unto-death since November 4, 2000 — when 10 innocent persons were killed by troopers of 8 Assam Rifles.
Ms. Banerjee said AFSPA continuance was a fault of the policymakers who had not taken the common people into confidence while taking the decision. It was wrong to believe that only “Army rule” can ensure peace.
“If we can solve the problem of [Maoist-infested] Jangalmahal in West Bengal within eight months, I think we can also solve the problem of Manipur.” She said her government had promised a package there and released so many political prisoners who had been jailed for life.
Targeting the Congress, Ms. Banerjee said the party, which had been in power in Manipur for so many years, failed to deliver. Also corruption was very high in the State, she alleged and asked where had 90 per cent of the money allocated for building roads and other projects gone. She had seen the “horrible condition” of roads which, she said, were full of dust.
“If they cannot do their job, if they cannot perform, then let's throw them out. Give a new opportunity to a new party,” she appealed to the crowd.
Describing West Bengal as the gateway of the northeast, Ms. Banerjee promised the voters that it would extend all help in setting up industries and promoting tourism in Manipur. The TMC would promote Manipuri culture and tribal culture.