Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “running away” from discussion on the issue of ethnic violence in Manipur, Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge on August 13 alleged that Mr. Modi’s comparison of the strife-torn northeastern State to peaceful Chhattisgarh was an insult to the people here.
“By comparing the violence in Manipur to [incidents in] Chhattisgarh, he has insulted the people here… Has any incident like Manipur taken place here? What had happened in Manipur, our women were raped, they were disrobed, their houses were burnt, and they have nothing to eat. Who created such a situation in Manipur? The Prime Minister did,” Mr. Kharge said in Chhattisgarh’s Janjgir-Champa district, where he was addressing a State government-sponsored meeting under the Bharose Ka Sammelan (conference of trust) initiative.
The Congress leader was referring to a statement by Mr. Modi in July on the violence in Manipur. Naming twoCongress-ruled States, the PM had said: “I appeal to all Chief Ministers, whether Rajasthan or Chhattisgarh or Manipur, that they strengthen all law enforcement for the protection of women.”
Mr. Kharge, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, further said that the Congress wanted the Prime Minister to make a statement in Parliament on Manipur, but Mr. Modi was not breaking his silence on the issue.
“It is shameful that instead of discussing the Manipur violence and answering the Opposition’s questions in the Parliament, the Prime Minister was focused on cracking jokes over the Congress party,” Mr. Kharge said.
The Congress president also referred to the “continuous raids” by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income-Tax (I-T) Department in Chhattisgarh, which goes to the polls later this year, and asserted that the party and Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel would not be intimidated by such tactics employed by the Central government led by the BJP, which is also the main Opposition party in Chhattisgarh.
Praising Mr. Baghel for delivering on all the party’s electoral promises, Mr. Kharge said that the CM had “Aladdin’s magic lamp”, one that had something to offer to all sections of society.
During the programme, the Chief Minister launched a total of 1,043 development works worth ₹467.33 crore for the residents of the district, a statement issued by the government said.
While Sunday’s meeting was the first in the five poll-bound States Mr. Kharge will be visiting over the next 15 days, the party is also eyeing the Scheduled Caste (SC) votes by holding his public meeting at Janjgir-Champa, a district dominated by SC communities. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) founder Kanshiram fought his first Lok Sabha election from here.
In the 2018 Assembly polls, despite a spectacular performance in the State, the Congress performed poorly in the Bilaspur division under which Janjgir-Champa falls, losing 12 of the 24 seats. Apart from the BJP, the BSP (which has already declared its list of nine candidates) and the newly found Hamar Raj party will all be vying for the votes here.
At Sunday’s event, Mr. Baghel announced that jaitkham (structures sacred to the Satnami community) would come up in each block, and sarpanchs would get them constructed with the help of the gram panchayat.