State polls and move to ban UNC
With the Central government not confident that current economic blockade by United Naga Council will allow peaceful elections in Manipur and the state government apparently peeved by the dogged resistance of the agitating council to lift the siege on the national highways, the latter’s decision to process for declaring UNC as an unlawful organisation was on expected line. Significantly, the emergency meeting of the Congress Legislature Party convened on Saturday resolving to apprise the Union home minister Rajnath Singh for taking necessary steps to label the UNC as an unlawful organisation has arrived some days after Congress legislator-turned BJP state spokesperson N Biren questioned the state government’s inability to ban the UNC, which has been enforcing the economic blockade since November 1, 2016. Along with making public the CLP resolution while briefing media persons, Congress party spokesperson Kh Joykisan going to the extent of calling the UNC activities as illegal, anti-social and anti-people testify government’s determination to firmly deal with the blockade enforcers, whose similar agitation some years back had also seriously affected normal chores. By pointing out that the UNC stir has been choking the supply routes, disrupting implementation of national and state projects for such a protracted three months, and affecting social harmony owing to unbearable hardships caused to the people of both the hills and plains, the spokesperson seems to have given a clear message about the government’s firm resolve to turn the table on the UNC.
Moreover, the government representative urging the central and state leaders of the BJP to extend cooperation in the state government’s initiatives to fight elements inimical to interest of Manipur and its people is akin to putting the ball in the court of the saffron party, whose leaders have been criticising the Congress government and accusing it of instigating the economic blockade. The government’s contention that UNC has for long been acting at the directive of the armed NSCN-IM also seems to be one of the decisive factors in deciding to prohibit the UNC activities in the multi-ethnic society like Manipur. It needs no reminding that the blockade issue has been the hottest topic in the run up to the state elections, for there have been charges and counter-charges between the BJP and the Congress over who should actually shoulder the responsibility to reopen the national highway-2, which passes through the core zone of the agitators. Contrary to the Centre assuring to provide adequate central paramilitary forces for resuming transportation of goods on the Imphal-Dimapur section of the highway and for smooth conduct of the elections, the state government has been expressing reluctance to use force fearing collateral loss of lives and properties. As ‘unlawful’ organisation tag is different from a ‘terrorist’ organisation, the follow-up action for the state government; in case Centre approves the proposal for banning UNC, will be closure of its offices and interests across the state. In view of the CLP resolution taken amid hectic election campaigning, it would be interesting to watch how the BJP would react to the decision to ban UNC and its implication on the state elections.