“Gaikhangam, who is conspicuous by absence in Assembly, is misrepresenting facts”

Manipur Opposition leader Radhabinod Koijam on Friday hit back at Congress MLA Gaikhangam, who kept ridiculing opposition parties as being “hamstrung.” Mr. Koijam said Mr. Gaikhangam who “does not attend the Assembly session most of the times” misrepresented facts for narrow political ends.

Mr. Gaikhangam, who is also the PCC president, has been taunting the disparate opposition parties with the remark they are so pleased with the spectacular performance of the Congress-CPI coalition that they are not saying anything against the government. In fact, he said, they would support Congress candidates in the coming elections.

Mr. Koijam, who is State president of the Nationalist Congress Party, said Mr. Gaikhangam was conspicuous by his absence in the Assembly even during the debate on the Governor's address. This was inexcusable as he was the State president of the ruling party.

So far other Opposition parties had not reacted to the frequent taunting by Mr. Gaikhangam.

On the demand for a plebiscite on restoration of Manipur's “independence”, Mr. Koijam said he had expressed the view that if this was helpful in restoration of peace the government should give it serious consideration. Chief Minister Okram Ibobi had said the plebiscite demand from United National Liberation Front militants was itself a positive step.

Meanwhile, there has been a watershed political battle between the two ruling parties at public functions.

Agriculture Minister P. Parijat, who is a senior CPI leader, said his party did not tag along the Congress for loaves and fishes. Pointing out that political instability prevailed in Manipur before 2002, he said the CPI joined hands with the Congress to ensure a stable Ministry in the larger interest of the people. There was no cast-iron guarantee that the party would always go along with the Congress.

There are four CPI MLAs in the 60-member House and the Congress commands absolute majority. The Chief Minister allowed the CPI to join the Ministry to continue the coalition culture.

But he now says the Congress has become very popular among the people and that after the next elections, expected some time later this year, will form a Ministry on its own.

It may be recalled that some years ago the CPI rank and file wanted the party to snap ties with the Congress. However, Mr. Parijat pacified them, saying it would be more meaningful to serve the people from within the government than from without.