The Manipur Assembly sat on Tuesday for a Special Session but what was supposed to be held for a day was over in less than an hour – precisely 48 minutes – with all 10 Kuki MLAs missing.
It was the briefest session ever for the 60-member House.
The session began at 11 a.m. and ended at 11:48 a.m. with a 30-minute adjournment in between, incensing the Congress legislators who demanded a five-day session to discuss the ongoing ethnic violence that has claimed more than 160 lives since May 3.
The Opposition members, led by former Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Okram Ibobi Singh, said the prevailing situation in the State deserved more than a short session.
The proceedings of the House began with a two-minute silence for the victims of the ethnic violence between the non-tribal Meitei and the tribal Kuki people, which has psychologically divided the State.
When Chief Minister N. Biren Singh started reading out a resolution, the Opposition MLAs began creating a ruckus demanding a five-day session. One of them was heard chanting “Save democracy”.
As the decibel level increased, Speaker Thokchom Satyabrata Singh adjourned the session sine die. There was no Question Hour or private member motion.
In his address, CM N. Biren Singh said: “With great sorrow, we condole the deaths of the people in the violence… Words seem inefficient for those who have lost their loved ones.”
After the adjournment, the House resolved to work for the oneness and harmony of all people and strive to resolve all differences among people through dialogue and constitutional means.
Conspicuous by their absence were 10 Kuki MLAs, seven of them from the ruling BJP. They had earlier announced their decision to skip the Assembly session as “Imphal Valley has become a valley of death for us”. Imphal, dominated by the Meitei people, is Manipur’s seat of power.
The brief session attracted flak from Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
“What a farce! There was simply no reason why with its huge majority the ruling party could not have had the session for a few days at the very least. The reason is simple: if the Assembly Session had functioned, the differences and fissures within the BJP would have come into full display and that too on the floor of the Assembly,” he wrote on X (previously Twitter).
“Further, the fact that all 10 Kuki MLAs, including the 7 from the BJP, boycotted the Assembly session, shows the deep divide in the state and how the CM is unfit to take forward the peace process. The BJP, as always, has converted an opportunity into a formality,” he further wrote.
Later, Congress MLA and State party president, K. Meghachandra hoisted a black flag on the compound of the Manipur Congress head office to protest the adjournment of the Assembly session.
“The way the House was adjourned just after 15 minutes is very unfortunate for the country as well. The BJP-led government does not want a proper discussion on many burning issues of the State,” he said.
PWD Minister, Govindas Konthoujam hit back at Congress for not letting any resolution be adopted by creating a commotion. “We are ready to hold discussions on every issue of the State. But Congress, which is striving for the imposition of the President’s Rule, created a scene in the House,” he said.