As Manipur prepares to hold Assembly election on 4 March, Chief Minister Ibobi Singh finds himself cornered — quite literally — with his counterparts from fellow North East states seemingly coming together to blast the Congress leader over his inability to ease the economic blockade in place.
As per a report in The Indian Express, in Nagaland, where Naga People's Front (NPF) leader TR Zeliang was forced to step down last month following continued protests by tribal bodies, has hit out at Ibobi Singh, saying the responsibility of lifting the blockade rested solely on the Manipur chief minister. "The blockade was entirely Okram Ibobi Singh's creation and it depends on him whether it could be lifted or whether it would continue," said Zeliang, who was in Manipur's Senapati district recently to campaign for NPF candidates.
"Ibobi Singh had created the new districts without consulting the stakeholders, knowing well that this would result in protests. But by doing so he was expecting the valley people to back him and vote for his party. It now depends on him whether to revoke the government decision or to let it stand," he added.
Not just the former Nagaland chief minister, even his successor has joined ranks in criticising Ibobi, accusing him of inciting communal tensions in the Imphal Valley to ensure he gets more votes in the upcoming polls. Newly sworn in Nagaland, chief minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu said Ibobi Singh is "even more communal than his party".
According to a report in The Asian Age, Liezietsu urged the Meiteis, the dominant community of the Imphal Valley, not to fall prey to Ibobi's tricks of trying to divide the region on communal lines. "Any problem that is to be solved peacefully through dialogue must not be construed as going against any community," he said, also acknowledging the Meiteis of being a more dominant group in the region. "We expect them to play the role of elder brother by initiating measures to ensure the continuity of living together as good neighbours."
And it's not just the Nagaland leaders from across the border who have lashed out at Ibobi Singh. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma have also criticised Ibobi over the ongoing blockade. "It is his (Ibobi's) duty to lift the blockade. I would have lifted it if a similar stir was launched in my state," said Khandu, according to a report in The Times of India.
Echoing these views was Sarma, formerly with the Congress party in Assam before he switched ranks and joined the BJP ahead of Assembly elections last year. "If the state government hands over its responsibility to us, we could end the blockade within 48 hours without the Centre's help," Sarma said, drawing attention to the grievous public suffering across the state border.
Updated Date: Mar 02, 2017 19:23 PM