Anguish of Manipur reverberates in Lok Sabha as Congress Manipur MP speaks against PM Modi’s “silence”

MP for Inner Manipur A. Bimol Akoijam accused the BJP led union and state government of ignoring the pleas of the people of Manipur, came down heavily on PM Modi for not visiting the state since May of 2023.

Since May of 2023, the state of Manipur has been under the grip of ethnic violence. The abject failure of the Indian state, Centre and State, under the Modi government to bring peace to violence ravaged Manipur was evident in the month of June itself, when a beheaded body of a Meitei farmer being found on June 6 had resulted in violence, burning of 70 houses, police outposts and a forest office. The said violent incident had left at least 2000 displaced. And yet, the name of Manipur state and the violence being seen by its residents had not once been addressed adequately in the Parliament. Disappointingly, even the President of India, in her speech on June 27, did not address in the newly election 18th Lok Sabha did not include the issue of Manipur.

In response to the said President’s address to the Parliament, the recently elected Member of Parliament for Inner Manipur, A Bimol Akoijam, came out swinging, accusing the BJP-led NDA administration of “ignoring” the state riven by violence. A professor at JNU, Akoijam made his political debut in the recently concluded Lok Sabha election of 2024, defeating BJP state minister TH Basanta Singh.

Addressing the Lok Sabha around midnight of July 2, Akoijam said “Is this silence communicating to the people of the Northeast and particularly Manipur that you do not matter in the Indian State’s scheme of things?”

Referring to the absence of the Manipur crisis in President Droupadi Murmu’s address to Parliament, Akoijam highlighted the high number of people that have been left displaced due to the violence as well as the number of deaths. He further highlighted the danger that still looms in the state, leaving the citizens anxious over the next breakout of violence. As per The Indian Express, Akoijam said: “This is not a simple absence. It is a reminder of the ‘rashtra chetana (national consciousness)’ which excludes people. You must realise that more than 60,000 people are languishing in relief camps in wretched conditions for the last one year… 60,000 people homeless is not a joke. Over 200 people have died. There has been a civil war-like situation where people, armed to the teeth, are roaming around and fighting each other, defending their villages and the Indian State is a mute spectator to this tragedy for one year.”

Akoijam also pointed to the irony of being allotted a time close to midnight to deliver his maiden speech, saying that he was “amazed” that his speech was being delivered when there was hardly anyone present in the House, including from the Congress ranks.

Despite the fact that “every square centimeter of the state is covered by Central forces,” Akoijam questioned how thousands of villages had been devastated and 60,000 people had been made homeless. “Yet our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) remains mute. Not even a word. The Presidential address did not mention that (crisis). It is a reminder of what many scholars have said: there is a continuity between the colonial and post-colonial period,” he said.

Attacking the union government for neglecting the state of Manipur while claiming to move away from the colonial legacy attached to India, Akoijam cited the renowned political psychologist Ashis Nandy, and said colonialism is “a state of mind, it is a psychological phenomenon”. Akoijam then said “Today, we are observing a day where we implement new criminal laws, seemingly to discard colonial heritage… This continuity (of colonialism) is shown by neglecting the tragedy of a state which is the 19th state of the Union.”

Slamming the BJP’s nationalism, the MP said it was “sad to see a nationalist party like the BJP being comfortable with the silence on Manipur’s tragedy”. “Keep your hands on your heart and think about the homeless, the mothers and the widows. Think of them and then talk about nationalism,” he said.

Criticising PM Modi for standing as a mute spectator to the struggles of the people of Manipur, Akoijam, while wrapping up his speech, stated that “The hurt, the anger has thrown a nobody like me to be part of this temple of democracy, beating the BJP cabinet minister. Think about the pain… I will keep quiet the moment the Prime Minister opens his mouth and the nationalist party says that Manipur is a part of India and we care for the people of that state.”

A video of the speech can be accessed here:

It is essential to note that prior to Akoijam, Leader of the opposition and MP from Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi, had also heavily criticised the Modi government of pushing Manipur into “a civil war”, with its politics and policies. He highlighted how, since the beginning of the ethnic conflict in the state, PM Modi had not made one visit to Manipur.

Despite our criticisms and urges, the prime minister has not stepped in Manipur, it is as if the state does not belong to India; the home minister has not gone to Manipur either.”

Speaking of a woman in Manipur who saw a relative being shot to death, Gandhi further said “For the Prime Minister, there is no state of Manipur. We urged him to give a message, to go there. But no, you cannot get a reply (from the Prime Minister).

On July 3, the Congress party hit out at the government over its second MP from Manipur, Alfred Arthur, not having been allowed to speak before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address in Lok Sabha. Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi had spoken to the media over the said issue and said “…Yesterday, we saw a saddening thing in the parliament. Congress, especially Rahul Gandhi has this demand that both of Manipur MPs should put forth their views on the Motion of thanks. Rahul Gandhi himself has gone to Manipur, he has witnessed the division that has been created within the societies of Manipur, a civil-war-like condition is there. Rahul Gandhi knew that if we didn’t allow them to speak, it would convey a wrong message to the people of Manipur. But, the sad thing is that the PM doesn’t want to listen to the grievances of Manipur. We didn’t get the 2 minutes but we had to listen to the PM for 2 hours in which he kept repeating all those old allegations, jokes and satire. He took the politics to a newer low… In the end, the PM just said that if you didn’t get the time, ask your party. If the PM can offer water to the opposition MPs, why doesn’t he have the patience to listen to the MPs of Manipur? PM Modi is showing his back in a planned way to Manipur, yesterday he ignored what Mohan Bhagwat had said…”

On the other hand, a one had expected, in PM Modi’s 135-minute speech replying to the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address in the Lower House, he did not speak on the issue of Manipur and the violence that the state saw. During his speech PM Modi had to face with continuous slogan-shouting on justice for Manipur by opposition members.

It is essential to point out that post-election results (June 4) to the Indian Express on June 9, CM Manipur N Biren Singh, had accepted responsibility for the 12 month long targeted conflict in the state, admitting that both the Centre and State had not met public expectations. (Details can be read here.)



Manipur: Violence surges as do displacements, CM Biren Singh finally admits that Centre & State are not meeting public expectations

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Manipur: a year on, thousands of lives disrupted but the conflict continues

Supreme Court comes down heavily on Manipur government for failing to take undertrial to Court owing to his ethnic Kuki identity




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