Pm breaks silence, but no balm?

Manipur’s ‘Hurt’ Touches Parliament

By Insaf

The tragic silence is broken on Manipur! Prime Minister Modi finally spoke. But, only after the Opposition pointedly, through slogans, badgered him in both houses of Parliament as well as Rajya Sabha member Angomcha Bimol Akoijam’s anguish-filled maiden speech, which got impressive coverage, despite being close to midnight! “I will keep quiet the moment the prime minister opens his mouth, and the nationalist party says Manipur is part of India, and we care for the people of that state,” he said during the motion of thanks to President’s address. Noting absence of Manipur in Murmu’s address, he said “This is not a simple absence. It’s a reminder of a rashtra-chetana (national consciousness) which excludes people”. He spoke of the ‘hurt’ as: Over “60,000 people are languishing in relief camps in wretched conditions for past one year, it’s not a joke; 200-plus people died; there’s a civil war-like situation, people are armed to the teeth, fighting each other, defending their villages’; Indian State is a mute spectator for one year; it’s one of the most militarised areas of this country; BJP govt is continuing with a colonial mindset when it came to dealing with people from northeast states…” And threw the big question, “Is this silence communicating to people of N-E and Manipur in particular that you don’t matter in the Indian State’s scheme of things?”

Replying to the debate next day in Rajya Sabha, Modi spoke at length on Manipur. He said efforts are being made by Centre with state government to ensure ‘a return of complete peace,’ and hope for peace is a definite possibility. Violence is continuously declining, educational institutes and businesses have opened in most parts of the state, over 500 people arrested, over 11,000 FIRs registered, Union Home Minister visited several times, are reasons for his hope. At same time, he urged “We must all rise above politics and cooperate towards normalising the situation. It’s our responsibility,” as clearly ‘social conflict is deeply rooted with a long history, leading to President’s rule 10 times since Independence…the five-year-long conflict from 1993 onwards…” The bottom line: need to handle the situation with “wisdom and patience.” He needs to remember the idiom ‘If there’s a will there’s a way’. For only that very day, Supreme Court pulled up state government saying it ‘did not trust it’, pointing out that petitioner, a Kuki undertrial in Manipur was ‘denied care because of the community he belongs to’. It directed medical treatment at an Assam hospital and warned it would take the govt to task if the medical report turned out to be serious. Indeed, words won’t heal wounds still fresh even after a year. Genuine concern and action are the balm and much needed.

UP’s Tragic ‘Conspiracy’

The Uttar Pradesh government’s insinuation of a ‘conspiracy’ behind the Hathras tragedy is like rubbing salt in the wounds of the victims’ families. It simply shouldn’t, rather can’t abdicate its responsibility when 121 people are killed and over 300 injured in the stampede at the satsang of Bhole Baba on Tuesday last. Worse, the FIR doesn’t name the preacher among organisers or ‘sevadars’ explicitly blamed for it. While Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced a judicial inquiry, saying “If this isn’t an accident, then whose conspiracy is this? All of this will be probed,” the big question is: wasn’t the local administration aware of the preacher’s popularity? Why didn’t it act when numbers started exceeding the permission sought — 80,000, whereas the venue eventually had 2.5 lakh people? Two PILs have been filed, one in Supreme Court seeking setting up of a 5-member expert panel under a retired judge and another in Allahabad high court urging a CBI. Predictably not having faith in Yogi’s judicial inquiry? Or agreeing with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s retort: “Look, there can’t be a conspiracy in this. The conspiracy could be the government wants to run away from its responsibility!”

AP’s Shopping List

Andhra Pradesh has changed strategy. Instead of pursuing long-pending demand for special category status, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu met Prime Minister Modi instead sought financial handholding and gave his shopping list. Justification being: “fiscal situation has significantly deteriorated due to previous government’s misadventures and absence of a strategic long-term development plan. Unproductive expenditure & fiscal hara-kiri marked by exploitation of natural resources for personal use and no focus on development of human resources growth has plummeted, revenue receipts have tapered, and liabilities have peaked.” Worse, committed expenses, including salaries, pensions, and debt servicing, exceed the State’s revenue receipts, leaving no fiscal space for productive capital investment, he explained. So now it’s not just the ‘unscientific, unfair, and unjust bifurcation of 2014’ but getting his pound of flesh, whichever way. Higher Central aid sought among others is for rebuilding of government complex and road infrastructure for capital city Amaravati, Polavaram Irrigation Project, developing backward regions with Bundelkhand-like package. People, he said have placed their trust in NDA coalition government, thereby ‘granting both leaders a significant mandate to fulfil their promises and commitments.’ Clearly, a give and take!

Bihar Bridges Collapse

Bihar has earned the dubious distinction of building bridges which collapse like a house of cards! In just 15 days, Thursday marked the 10th bridge, built 15 years back, crumbling in Saran district, the third in the last 24 hours. The bridge, which was over Gandaki river connected several villages with neighbouring Siwan district. Fortunately, no casualty was reported, the district administration was trying to ascertain the exact cause, and a ‘high-level inquiry’ has been ordered why three ‘small bridges’ collapsed. Guess, the rain god may come to its aid as heavy rainfall for past few days could be a reason cited. With bridges collapsing in other districts — Siwan, Madhubani, Araria, East Champaran and Kishanganj, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has directed road construction and rural works departments to conduct a survey of all old bridges and identify those that require immediate repair. Too little too late? But perhaps well in time to add to the government’s financial list of getting funds from centre instead of the special status.  — INFA