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Strictly A Cong Affair?

The clarion call sounded by various social organizations to boycott the visit of AICC president, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, in the backdrop of the silent conspiracy entered into between Delhi and Dhaka should not surprise anyone, given the situation here and her standing in the Congress, which is currently heading the UPA Government for the second consecutive time.

It is not for nothing that Mrs. Gandhi makes it to the list of the most powerful women in the world, according to different surveys taken up and one should not forget that though she does not hold any Ministerial post at the Centre, she is the centre of power within the Congress (I) and by extension the UPA and it is only expected of the people to register their protest at the first given opportunity.

We do not know how well versed is Mrs. Gandhi with the political and social climate of Manipur but she cannot be unaware of the armed movement in the North East region for decades and its social and political ramifications. The timing of Mrs. Gandhi is also somewhat significant given the fact that she is scheduled to land here amidst the growing voices of protest against the continued silence of both Delhi and Dhaka on the present status of RK Meghen alias Sanayaima, who was reportedly arrested by agents from RAW and Bangladesh police on September 29, this year.

Not only this, Mrs. Gandhi will also be landing here in the emotionally charged atmosphere over the decade old fast unto death agitation launched by Irom Sharmila Chanu since November 4, 2000, to demand the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The very decision of the Ibobi Government not to grant permission to a number of rights crusaders to meet Sharmila on the occasion has only gone to make matter worse. Talk about wise counseling, the Chief Minister is supposedly receiving!

It would do Mrs. Gandhi and Delhi to realize that the issues here are not merely the disappearance of a rebel leader who has been waging a bush war against India for decades or a protest taken up by a young lady to demand the repeal of a controversial Act. It is much more than this. It is about the collective emotions and sentiments of about 25 lakh people of Manipur. There may be different perception of Sanayaima amongst the people but none, not even the staunchest of Indian Nationalist, would be able to deny that he is a man who cannot be ignored.

Like we have said earlier many times, Delhi appears to have chucked away a rare opportunity at starting a different and fresh approach to the problem of militancy here and who is better placed than RK Meghen to start this new and fresh approach ? Sharmila has been able to tug the heart strings of people cutting across National boundaries, not only because she has not eaten for 10 years, but also because of the dignified manner she has been carrying on her crusade. No rhetoric and not someone to be swayed by the flavor quoted words and namastes of the political netas and their chamchas, which is what Sharmila is, in a nutshell.

It is amid this scenario that Sonia Gandhi will be here to inaugurate the three market complexes, which have a rich history behind them. Not only this, but Mrs. Gandhi will also be heading to Churachandpur district to inaugurate the Khuga Multi-Purpose Project, which has already over shot its deadline by 30 years or so! In both cases, which are in Imphal and at Khuga, the distinct possibility of reducing the visit as well as the inaugural functions to an affair strictly meant only for the Congress party cannot be ruled out at all. Why, even its partner, the CPI may just decide to give the cold shoulder to the visiting dignitary.

That Mr. Ibobi is firm in making the visit of Sonia Gandhi a memorable one as well as takes it as the first step towards the next election is there for all to see. The window dressing given to some parts of Imphal not only looks like a facade is being enacted before the people, but equally shows the character of the SPF Government. What should ideally be an affair of the State and her people has been reduced to something of a day meant only for the Congress (I) and we are more than sure that this will not please Mrs. Gandhi if the truth comes to her knowledge.

As a personality from the first family of the country, it is expected of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to study why a boycott call coupled with a bandh has been called on the day she is set to land here and inaugurate two very important projects taken up by the State Government. Surely there must be some reasons and if not for anything else, just for the sake of curiosity, she should ideally raise this question before the SPF Government. Where is the need to issue instructions to all Congress MLAs to ensure that at least one thousand people from their respective Constituencies are brought to Imphal and attend the public meeting to be addressed by Sonia Gandhi?

Isn’t this some sort of a recapitulation or admitting to the sense of insecurity prevalent amongst the Congresswallahs of an empty stadium greeting Mrs. Gandhi? Questions may also raised whether Mrs. Gandhi has it in her to give a courtesy call to Sharmila, not as the president of the AICC or Chairperson of the UPA, but as a fellow being, who values human rights and human dignity. No one will refute the pan-India appeal of the Gandhi family or their charismatic hold on the people of India, however Mr. Ibobi and his men, in their over enthusiasm to curry favor from the high command, may just negate the positive traits associated with the Gandhi family.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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