Imphal: Accusing the Manipur chief minister of “deliberately” trying to derail efforts to end economic blockade, BJP state president K Bhabananda Singh has said they will initiate dialogue to end the impasse if voted to power. He said BJP favours building a specialized highway force which will ensure the safety of goods vehicles on the two highways — NH2 and NH37 – which are the lifelines of the landlocked state.
The indefinite economic blockade by United Naga Council (UNC) in Manipur is on since November 1, 2016 in protest against the state government’s decision to carve out seven new districts by bifurcating the existing ones. Supply of essential commodities, including fuel to Manipur, has been severely hit since the imposition of the blockade on the two highways. Congress and Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh have “deliberately played” the card of dividing the people of hills and Imphal Valley for their political interests and have tried to “whip up sentiments” ahead of polls by allowing the over three-and-half months long blockade to continue, Singh alleged.
The state government has maintained that the decision to carve out new districts was taken to improve administrative efficiency. “The economic blockade has divided the state and is widening the gap between the people of the hills and valley. Congress and the Chief Minister have deliberately played this card by dividing the districts so that he can get the votes of the valley, which has a high population,” Singh alleged in an interview to PTI yesterday.
“Congress wants this blockade to continue till the election is over. The people have now realised how Congress and Ibobi Singh have been fooling them for the last several years. Whenever there is an election, Congress comes up with something or the other to whip up the sentiments of the people living in the valley for the sake of votes,” he said.
Polling for the 60-seat Manipur Assembly will be held in two phases on March 4 and March 8. Almost 65 per cent of Manipur’s population live in Imphal Valley, which is dominated by non-tribal Meiteis. Two tribal groups – Naga and Kuki-Zomi – account for the remaining 35 per cent of the population scattered across Manipur’s hills that make up 90 per cent of the state’s geographical area. Forty of the 60 seats in the state assembly are in the plains and elections in Manipur are scheduled in early March.
Singh also alleged that Congress is not interested in talks to resolve the deadlock and is pursuing “every trick” to derail the dialogue on ending economic blockade. “If we come to power, we will open a dialogue process to solve this stalemate and ensure that the economic blockade is lifted. We feel that dialogue can solve the problem. In case of insurgency problem too, we are open to talks with the underground groups within the ambit of the Constitution. “But those dialogues will take place without compromising the integrity of Manipur,” the BJP leader said.