AA Edit | No end in sight to logjam on Manipur in Parliament

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

The biggest thorn without a visible thaw is the issue of acknowledgement of the significance of Manipur as an issue.

A placard held by a leader at a protest of the INDIA alliance parties over ethnic violence in Manipur, during the Monsoon session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Monday, July 24, 2023. (PTI Photo/Shahbaz Khan)

Logjams, slogan shouting, placards and posters, protests and pandemonium marked another day in Parliament on Monday, with no sight of a resolution yet, with both the government and the Opposition, either unwilling, or failing, to resolve the impasse.

The biggest thorn without a visible thaw is the issue of acknowledgement of the significance of Manipur as an issue. The entire Opposition spectrum, led by the newly formed INDIA coalition, wants the Prime Minister to address the Parliament over the issue, whereas the BJP-led NDA coalition insists that the rightful custodian to respond on the issue is the Union home minister.

The united Opposition coalition, INDIA, sees no reason to withhold or withdraw its frontal attack on the ruling NDA, having already tasted some success in almost forcing the hand of the BJP-led government, and ahead of the start of the Monsoon Session, managing to elicit a public statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his statement, PM Modi was unequivocal in his condemnation of the Manipur violence, especially the incident whose video went viral, in which mobs paraded two women naked.

Clearly the Opposition wants more. On its part, the BJP is seemingly stuck in its position that a statement by home minister Amit Shah is acknowledgment enough of the seriousness of the issue, the conceding by the government of a failure of its law and order mechanism in the state, and is trying to build bridges, pressing into service minister Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari to reach out to the Opposition. Mr Shah, on his part, called it ‘a sensitive matter’, about which the country “deserves to know the truth.”

It would be foolhardy for anyone to expect that the phrase, “no one should politicise the issue” will hold any water — in fact, in an election year, the Opposition is bound to use this as a unifying and emotive issue to bring limelight on to a larger theme that the Modi government has failed on several fronts and issues. The BJP government is keen that a debate takes place on the issue comprehensively, even as the Congress used the phrase “double engine government” to extract its pound of political mileage.

Members of the Opposition questioned outside the House, in talking to the media and on social media a single themed query — why is the Prime Minister not ready to speak about the issue in the House? Meanwhile, members of the united Opposition have been taking multiple approaches to the issue, the AAP calling for a protest, TMC sought a discussion on the issue in West Bengal state Assembly, even as the Congress dubbed the BJP’s offer for a discussion “an eyewash... to shield Prime Minister Modi”.

In both Houses of the Parliament, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the issue reduced to a shouting game, a slogan fest, even as parties continued their political deadlock and interrupted the proceedings and forced the House to be adjourned due to ruckus, and Opposition MPs being suspended.

Given the political crossroads, rainfall and floods have left several states and farmers in dire straits, it seems like a missed opportunity for both the ruling party and Opposition to do some public good. The issue of humanity itself seems to have been swept under the political carpet, with both sides of the spectrum digging in their heels on the issue.

Hopefully tomorrow will have a greater sense prevailing.