Killing two birds with one stone
No CAB, Yes ILPS
The politics at play is amazing and the plot that has been weaved by the politics at play here is perhaps just the right script for a nail biting finish, the type that one would usually associate with a Hollywood suspense thriller. After days of anxiety and even as the call issued by the Manipur People Against Citizenship Amendment Bill to suspend the day’s activities was still in force, the Citizenship Amendment Bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha, minus any reference to Manipur. Just minutes before this, Chief Minister N Biren went to town via a live video narrating a telephonic assurance from Union Home Minister Amit Shah that Manipur would come under the Inner Line Permit System. This obviously did set tongues wagging or rather goaded some key board activists to pen down their thoughts, and in the process urging all to take the telephonic assurance with a pinch of salt. That no reference was made to Manipur when CAB was tabled on the floor of the Lok Sabha only went to give a degree of credence to the stand adopted by the sceptics. This was obviously not the end of the story for it was not long later that the Union Home Minister announced that the Inner Line Permit System would be extended to Manipur. The meeting point of ILPS and CAB may be seen in the context of the earlier assurance from Amit Shah that CAB would not be extended to areas which come under the ILPS and which are under the 6th Schedule of the Constitution of India. In declaring that the ILPS would be extended to Manipur, the Home Minister did convey the message that CAB would not be enforced in the State.
Killing two birds with one stone, and this is what the BJP led Government at New Delhi has done and this is something which should be acknowledged. ILPS is a popular demand in Manipur and one can still remember the days of protests on the roads of Imphal and the pitched battles with the police in the dead of the night during curfew hours. One can also remember how a young student, Sapam Robinhood was killed in police action during one of the many protest rallies taken out to demand ILPS or a similar mechanism to regulate the inflow of non-locals into the State of Manipur. The stand against CAB must be well known to all and this is where certain points need to be acknowledged. It is not often that a Union Home Minister grants an audience to a group of people who stand against its agenda, but this is exactly what Amit Shah did when he agreed to meet representatives of MANPAC at New Delhi a few days back. This was not always the case. Rewind to 2004/2005 when the bullet riddled body of Th Manorama was discovered and during the more than 90 days of intense protest , there was no report of any representative of Apunba Lup, which then spearheaded the movement, getting any invite from New Delhi. The then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and then Home Minister Shivraj Patil did fly down to Imphal but one here is talking about the sense of importance given to the people’s voice and the sense of urgency demonstrated not only by the Centre but also Chief Minister N Biren in arranging the meeting with Amit Shah. The ILPS decision is a master stroke delivered by Amit Shah and this is something which can stand the BJP on good ground in Manipur.