We must rise above politics for peace in Manipur, says PM Modi

Watch: PM Modi breaks silence on Manipur, says govt making continuous efforts to normalise situation

Need to rise above politics to bring normalcy to Manipur, says PM; claims Congress is the biggest opponent of the Constitution; Opposition MPs walk outafter chair prevents interjection by LoP Kharge

Updated - July 04, 2024 02:11 am IST

Published - July 03, 2024 04:50 pm IST - New Delhi

In his first substantial remarks on the Manipur conflict in Parliament since ethnic violence broke out in the State over a year ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Rajya Sabha that efforts were on bring peace, adding that history suggests that “social tensions” in the State are deep rooted.

About 11,000 First Information Reports (FIRs) have been registered and more than 500 people arrested so far, Mr. Modi said, noting that when a similar but much more violent unrest took place in the State in 1993, the violence had lasted for five years.

“We have to rise above politics to bring normalcy. The elements who are trying to add fuel to the fire in Manipur should stop. There will be a time when Manipur will reject them. There is a long history of social tensions which are deep-rooted... We have to act wisely. Whoever wants to contribute to peace-building is welcome,” the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in the Rajya Sabha on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, in New Delhi on July 3, 2024

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in the Rajya Sabha on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, in New Delhi on July 3, 2024 | Photo Credit: ANI

In his reply to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address, Mr. Modi noted that Manipur had been subject to President’s Rule on ten occasions during the Congress era, but added that “we have not resorted to such means”.

Action on NEET

Addressing the alleged irregularities which have tainted the conduct of the NEET examination this year, the PM said that his government was taking strong action against those involved in criminal acts. “I expected all political parties to rise above party lines on the issue. I want to assure the youth that the government is not going to spare the people who have betrayed you. We are strengthening the whole system,” Mr. Modi said.

“The Congress is the biggest opponent of the Constitution,” the PM said, adding that the party’s past sins, such as the imposition of Emergency, could not be erased simply by waving the book. He said that it was due to the Constitution framed by Babasaheb Ambedkar that a person from a poor background like him could become the Prime Minister of India.

Taking potshots at the Congress for its statement that the country was bound to grow irrespective of who was in power, he said that some “intelligent people” believe that India will become the third largest economy “on its own”. Those who ran the government on auto-pilot and remote-pilot mode do not believe in doing anything, he added.

Opposition walkout

Opposition MPs, led by Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, walked out of the House barely 30 minutes after Mr. Modi began his speech. Mr. Kharge sought permission to interject when the PM stated that the Congress had opposed the celebration of November 26 as Constitution Day, but was not allowed to do so by Rajya Sabha Chairperson Jagdeep Dhankhar.

As the Opposition members came close to the well of the House, raising slogans demanding that Mr. Kharge be allowed to speak, at least ten security personnel rushed inside the House and took guard on either side of the Chair’s table. The security personnel left after the Opposition walked out. MPs from the Bahujan Samaj Party and the YSR Congress, however, stayed put. As the others walked out, Mr. Modi said, “They are disrespecting the Upper House. The people have defeated them on all fronts and now they do not have any option but to shout in the streets and by-lanes. It is their fate to run away.”

‘Working for peace in Manipur’

Mr. Modi said that incidents of violence had come down in Manipur, noting that schools, colleges, and other institutions were functioning smoothly.

“The Centre and State governments are working together and the smallest units are being brought along to bring peace in Manipur. The Home Minister spent several days there, senior government officials visit the State regularly and are in touch with people there,” he said. Given the likelihood of flooding in the State, the Centre is extending all help and has sent two teams from the National Disaster Response Force as well, he added.

At least 221 people have been killed and more than 50,000 people displaced after ethnic tensions between the Meitei people and the tribal Kuki-Zo people erupted into violence in the State on May 3, 2023.

Mr. Modi’s statement comes in the wake of persistent protests by the Opposition, which has accused the PM of being silent on the issue and not visiting the State even once. The Congress MPs from Manipur, A. Bimol Akoijam and Alfred Kanngam S. Arthur, had led the protest in the well of the Lok Sabha on Tuesday as the Prime Minister spoke.

Anti-corruption action

In the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Modi spoke for an hour and 51 minutes.

He said that his government had given a free hand to security agencies to act against corruption, adding that parties which accused each other of corruption were on the same platform in Delhi.. “Congress is like a parasite, they won seats on the back of their alliance partners and were known to misuse the agencies to harass their opponents when in power,” he said, accusing the Opposition party of misleading people through fake narratives and fake videos.

The selective outrage around crimes against women was concerning, Mr. Modi said. “I was pained to see the video of a woman who was being beaten in full public view by a man in West Bengal. None came forward to help, they were making videos. Similarly the Sandeshkhali incident was horrific,” he said.

He accused the Congress of having a mindset against Scheduled Castes and Tribes and other backward classes. Mr. Kharge shielded the one responsible for the party’s third consecutive loss, Mr. Modi said. “The Congress always uses Dalits to save the family,” he said.

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