Manipur’s place in the eyes of New Delhi PM, HM, one after the other
Not very often it is that the Prime Minister of the country and the Union Home Minister visit Manipur one after the other within a span of three days. Yet this is what will pan out with Union Home Minister Amit Shah set to land here on January 6, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the State on January 4. Other than the Big Two, Union Ministers, Ministers of State and BJP leaders have regularly been visiting Manipur, more so in the run up to the Assembly election scheduled to be held early this year, with the Election Commission of India expected to announce the poll notification any day soon. The Prime Minister came, saw, inaugurated 13 projects worth crores of rupees, besides laying the foundation stones of nine projects, again worth crores and highlighted how Delhi has come to the doorstep of Manipur. Double engine growth and governance, this is what the Prime Minister said and in an indirect dig at the Congress stressed on how the North East region has now become central to the development of India, all falling in line with the transformation of Look East Policy to Act East Policy. The address of the Prime Minister must have gone down well with quite a large number of people, for it is a fact that any tour to the North East is today no longer seen as a foreign jaunt, a thought process that was in vogue for long, in fact for much of the greater part of the period after Manipur merged with the Union of India in 1949. It is also significant to note that other than highlighting the changes that have been brought about after the BJP came to power in 2014, the Prime Minister did not touch some points which must be high on the agenda of the people. One obviously is the continued imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, especially in the backdrop of the recent mass massacre at Oting in Nagaland. True no one expected the Prime Minister to touch a sensitive issue like AFSPA in a public address, but it would have helped if at least some oblique points such as how much the BJP stands by human rights had been made.
With the Prime Minister having inaugurated numerous projects, the scheduled visit of Union Home Minister Amit Shah may not have much to do with inauguration spree, and what one would expect is to hear him touch on some points which are ‘hot issues’ here. A brief word on the conduct of the Central security forces which all come under the protective umbrella of the AFSPA can certainly go down well with the people, and this can certainly push up the poll prospect of the saffron party a notch or two or three higher in the eyes of the public. Will the Union Home Minister touch on the demand raised by certain section of the people that the Meiteis be included in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India ? Doubtful, for the ST divide seems to run deep, especially between the people who are for the demand and those who are against it, but here again an oblique reference to this point will certainly go down well with the people. Whatever the case may be, it is significant to note the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister visiting Manipur one after the other within a span of three days and even though some may see this as purely being motivated by the coming Assembly election, it reflects just how seriously Delhi has taken the Assembly election and herein one may see the new found importance of Manipur in the eyes of New Delhi.