BLOCKADE: Ripe menu for poll campaign
THE emergency meeting of Presidential Council of the United Naga Council (UNC) convened Tuesday deciding to persevere with the on-going indefinite economic blockade, ban on national projects and picketing of government offices in Naga inhabited areas followed by the state’s home department coming up with a clarification that the UNC’s stand to sustain the agitation is against the spirit of an agreement reached in the February 3 meeting in New Delhi are cause for concern and great confusion to the public. Contrary to the government’s contention that the Delhi pact centred on the agitating council’s assurance to consider lifting the economic blockade during the presidential council meeting and the former’s intimation to facilitate release of top UNC functionaries currently in detention, the council in a statement issued to the media claimed that no agreement was signed related to ending the siege of the national highways. Another confusing development on the current impasse was the UNC categorically stating that the Delhi meeting resolved to hold the second round of tripartite talk on March 25 although reports published by most dailies a day after the first round of the tripartite talk had hinted that discussion on the blockade issue would continue on February 7. Instead of creating confusion emphasis should be given on finding an early end to the stalemate for the public cannot be made to suffer any longer due to the contradictions between the UNC and the state government.
In case the agitating Naga council sticks to its stand that the next tripartite talk will be possible only on March 25, then there should be no doubt that the current stir will surpass the 2011 record of 120 days of choking supplies on the two lifelines of Manipur by at-least five days, if at all the parties in dispute manage to iron out their differences and end the agitation. Among others, the blockade issue will be the hottest subject for leaders of political parties, which are in the fray for the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election. With the ruling Congress party contending that the UNC is a frontal organisation of the armed NSCN-IM and as such the Central government should take the responsibility to solve the crisis, and the BJP leaders charging the state authorities of not deploying security personnel in adequate strength to ensure regular transportation of essential goods, in-spite of the Centre dispatching additional companies of central forces, it is imminent that the blame game will persist till the election process has been completed. For the hapless commoners, their only hope for reprieve from the distressful situation will be successful intervention by the civil society organisations to bring the UNC executives to the negotiating table at the earliest possible. With politicians known for their nonchalance in raking up sensitive issues and stirring public emotions with the ulterior objective to convert them into votes, the ensuing assembly election will definitely be one of the most fiercely contested polls in Manipur’s history.