After the maiden visit of the AICC Vice-president Rahul Gandhi to Manipur on Wednesday for electioneering, there is a general disappointment among the Manipur voters. Activists said he skipped all major issues and this will have a direct bearing on the forthcoming Lok sabha elections in the state.
Activists compalined that Mr. Gandhi was merely parroting the “progress report” made available to him by the government and no mention was made about the ground realities.
Women activists told The Hindu that Mr. Gandhi, during his 25 minutes speech, said nothing regarding the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and added that BJP promised to repeal it if it comes to power.
Mr. Gandhi had claimed that the UPA I and II have improved the two highways, 2 and 37 which are the lifelines of Manipur. However, nothing was mentioned about the recurring blockades, strikes along these two highways by tribal organizations resulting in price rise and hoarding of consumer goods in the State, activists added.
They also said that he was silent over the demand for an “alternative arrangement” for the Nagas in Manipur. The government has been holding talks with the United Naga Council which is spearheading the agitation saying that the Nagas in Manipur no longer want to stay under the “communal government”. There had been reservations on this demand since in the long run it will mean removing the “Naga areas” from Manipur.
There have been agitations protesting against the construction of the border fence along Manipur-Myanmar. It is contended that it was being constructed deep inside Manipur's territory. While Mr Gandhi was silent on the issue the BJP has been saying that the Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh had given his approval to the contentious construction. The fence will pass through even a wildlife sanctuary in Chandel district at the border.
Many voters pointed out that Mr. Gandhi did not mention the dismal failure in power and potable water supply. In Manipur a consumer gets power for 5 hours in a day at an average. People have been buying bottled water or from the private suppliers at the rate of Rs. 100 per 500 litres.
Mr. Gandhi appreciated the way several outfits had been brought to the national mainstream to engage in peace talks. However the reality is that some of the former insurgents who are now in designated camps were allegedly involved in many insurgency related crimes.