Civil society groups told us to demand in Parliament that PM Modi visit Manipur before LS polls: Cong
The organisations also said Manipur needs "sensitive, transparent, accountable and strong" governance, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh told a press conference
Civil society organisations that met Rahul Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra have urged the Congress to demand during the upcoming Budget session of Parliament that Prime Minister Narendra Modi visit the violence-hit state before the Lok Sabha polls, the party said on Monday.
The organisations, which met Gandhi separately, also said Manipur needs "sensitive, transparent, accountable and strong" governance, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh told a press conference in Senapati as the yatra halted for lunch.
The ethnic violence that broke out in the northeastern state in May last year has claimed nearly 200 lives and rendered thousands homeless.
The Manipur-to-Maharashtra yatra began on Sunday from Thoubal with Gandhi asserting that the Congress would present a new vision for India based on harmony, brotherhood and equitability, and devoid of hatred, violence and monopoly.
"Earlier when we used to come to Manipur, we used to meet Manipuri organisations, but now we are meeting various community organisations. That is a difference. All of them are demanding peace," Ramesh said. Taking a swipe at the BJP-led Manipur government, he claimed that two state ministers are "missing" and working "online".
The prime minister did not even meet chief minister N. Biren Singh and only greeted him digitally on his birthday, the Congress leader said. Ramesh also claimed that neither the Rajya Sabha MP nor a minister of state from Manipur could meet Modi.
"The civil society organisations told Rahul ji that the Congress and he should demand in the Budget session of Parliament that Modi come to Manipur before the (2024) Lok Sabha elections," Ramesh said.
He claimed that PM Modi even skipped a campaign meeting in Mizoram recently as questions would have been raised if he visited the election-bound state and not Manipur.
Gandhi also met a truck driver from Mathura and a shopkeeper from Bihar during his yatra in Manipur, Ramesh said.
Hitting out at the prime minister, Ramesh said the only reason for bringing the no-confidence motion was to get the prime minister to break his "silence" on Manipur. "The prime minister spoke for 123 minutes in Parliament but spoke only for three-and-a-half minutes on Manipur," he said.
The no-confidence motion against the Modi-led BJP government was defeated through a voice-vote in the Lok Sabha last year, after opposition MPs staged a walkout.
The Congress' general secretary in-charge communications said all the organisations told Gandhi that there should be sensitivity in governance and the prime minister should visit Manipur. "They all demanded that there should be sensitivity and a strong government. The result of the divisive politics of the BJP-RSS is being witnessed in Manipur," Ramesh said.
Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar said at the press conference that the yatra can be summed up on two lines in Hindi — "Jab desh mein beh rahi ho anyay ki andhi tab nyay ke liye ladh rahe hain Rahul Gandhi (when a storm of injustice is blowing through the country, Rahul Gandhi is fighting for justice)." Lashing out at the BJP, Kumar said the divide is there for all to see.
"Drivers from Imphal are not willing to go to Kangpokpi and vice versa. When the Congress had raised this issue in Parliament and demanded that the prime minister and the home minister reply on Manipur, you saw how the opposition was maligned," Kumar said.
Gandhi has said "we want to end the cycle of violence and divide in Manipur and establish peace", he said. Kumar added that "a storm of injustice is blowing as institutions have been captured. You can see how institutions are becoming incapable of delivering justice."
"People are asking if the yatra is related to elections. If a political party does something, obviously it is to do with politics, but politics does not just mean elections," Kumar said, asking why the prime minister doesn't come to Manipur, despite all the security apparatus at his disposal.
At a rally in Thoubal on Sunday to flag-off the over 6,700-km yatra with which the Congress is looking to set the narrative for the Lok Sabha polls, Gandhi and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge attacked PM Modi for not visiting Manipur as it reeled under ethnic violence, and vowed to ensure justice for its people.
The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will pass through 100 Lok Sabha constituencies in 15 states. It will traverse 6,713 km, mostly in buses but also on foot, and culminate in Mumbai on 20 or 21 March.