Manipur: NDA’s northeast allies demand removal of CM Biren Singh
Even as there is a lack of consensus between the union government and the Opposition parties on a debate in Parliament over the ongoing violence in Manipur, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is under tremendous pressure from its alliance partners in the northeast to act against the state Chief Minister, N Biren Singh.
To make matters worse for the BJP’s central leadership, all its alliance partners in the northeast — NPF, MNF, NPP, and NDPP — have demanded that the Union government also impose President’s rule in the state.
“We have conveyed it to the senior leaders of the BJP that they should ensure that the chief minister of Manipur, N Biren Singh, takes moral responsibility for the developments in the state and he should step down. This will be the first step to bring peace to Manipur,” said a senior leader of the Naga People’s Front (NPF).
Senior leaders of the NDA further elaborated that during the two-day meeting of NDA alliance partners before the start of the monsoon session of Parliament, all the allies of the NDA categorically conveyed to the BJP leadership that the time had come for the central government to at least impose Article 355 that gives powers to the union government to ensure the protection of citizens.
“We are strongly of the opinion that the Union government uses Article 356 to impose President’s Rule in Manipur. If the Union government does not dismiss the state government, then at least impose Article 355, which gives the Union government tremendous powers to ensure the protection and safety of all citizens in Manipur,” said a senior leader of the National People’s Party (NPP).
Senior leaders from the northeast also said in the NDA meeting that they would raise the issue again when all the alliance partners meet this week to discuss the strategy in Parliament. NDA members said that since all the senior ministers in the Union government would also be present for the NDA meeting, they will ask the BJP to remove the chief minister of Manipur.
Violence could spread to other states, border security challenge
Senior leaders of the NDA also cautioned the BJP leadership that the cycle of violence should be controlled in the state because it not only threatens to spread to other states but can also take the shape of a security challenge because Manipur is a border state.
“Initially, we thought that the Union government would have imposed Article 355 in Manipur. We have waited for it to be imposed for a long time, but now I think the union government must impose President’s rule and take the state under its control. Apart from the problem of internal disturbance and violence in Manipur, the real challenge is the growing sense of alienation, which can take the form of a security risk because Manipur is a border state,” the NPP leader added.
In an effort to create more pressure on the BJP, alliance partners from the northeast have threatened that if the union government does not take action against the chief minister, they would be forced to review their relationship with the BJP.
Members of the NDA point out that while the BJP has a majority in the house in Manipur and does not require the support of NDA partners, reviewing their relationship with the BJP will be an attempt to convey the message that violence cannot continue in the state.
“We have asked the leadership of our party that they review the relationship with the BJP. We are smaller parties, and it is possible that the BJP does not need us so much, but we want to ensure that there is action against the chief minister,” the NPP leader added.
Manipur peace committees ineffective
Senior leaders of the NDA’s northeast alliance partners have also conveyed to the Union government that while there was a threat of other states getting affected because of the violence, the peace committees formed by the Manipur government are not functioning properly and are unable to achieve the desired results.
“The Manipur government has formed various peace committees, but they are unable to ensure peace in the state. What is the point of having such peace committees if they do not function? It is my view and the view of my party that there is no other way but to remove N Biren Singh from the top post, and then the centre should take control of the situation,” said a senior leader of the Mizo National Front (MNF).
Political analysts believe that since the violence in Manipur has continued for 80 days, the situation in the state has already taken the shape of a security challenge.
“The first step is to ensure that the state government goes, and there is no other way to bring peace in the state. If violence can continue for 80 days, it is clear that the state government or the chief minister have no capacity to end the cycle of violence in Manipur. I think the state government is now part of the problem, and therefore it should go. I will also blame the union government because violence has continued for more than two months, and central forces have not been able to control it,” said Dr Ajai Sahni, author, founding member, and executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management.