Sunday, Aug 13, 2023

Express view on no-confidence motion: Manipur needs more

No-trust motion was on Manipur but Parliament exchange pushed it off centrestage. Parties need to pick up thread outside it

Narendra ModiPrime Minister Narendra Modi's response on Day 3 painted a series of stark pictures.
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Express view on no-confidence motion: Manipur needs more
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If the thousands displaced in Manipur, Meiteis and Kukis both, forced to seek shelter in relief camps, and the families of the nearly 150 dead, and the women who were paraded and sexually assaulted by a mob on a viral video, were watching — what would they have seen over the last three days in Parliament? What would they have heard during the no-confidence motion brought by the Opposition, in Manipur’s name, against the government? They would have seen and heard a political back and forth in which, for the most part, Manipur’s distress became a mere prop, rarely did it gain centrestage. Over three days, there were declamations — as opposed to discussion and debate, because the latter two require some reciprocity, an acknowledgement of, if not respect for, the other side, even if only for the sake of form, and a willingness to engage. Both government and Opposition said their piece, and showed little signs that they had listened to each other — the prime minister came to the House only to make his speech, and the Opposition walked out while he was speaking. For both, the impending election in 2024, eight months away, seemed a far more palpable presence than the northeastern state where violence had not ceased even as they spoke.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s response on Day 3 painted a series of stark pictures. The no-confidence motion, he said, spoke not of the lack of confidence of the Opposition in the government, but about the lack of trust of discredited nay-sayers in the India story. Parties repeatedly rejected by the people, blinded by arrogance and corruption, brought down by pessimism, the pre-eminence of dynasty and policies of appeasement, are not able to see India’s “samarthya” or capability. They fail to recognise, he said, that for the nation this is a time of possibilities, “chaaron taraf sambhavnaein hi sambhavnaein”. He targeted the Congress, most of all, but also the alliance of 26 parties, INDIA, of which it is a part, as the “ghamandiya gathbandhan (arrogant alliance)”, riven with internal contradictions — both, he said, could not bear to see the rise of a poor man’s son to prime ministership and his successful stewardship over two terms of the India story. If a fragmented Opposition – which, despite its new-found jointness, has yet to bridge the gaps between the regional platforms of its constituent parties – could not keep the focus on Manipur and pin down the government in Parliament, PM Modi spent far too much time on berating his political opponent.

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At 6 45 pm, more than halfway through his over two hours-long speech, the PM finally addressed the people of Manipur: “I want to say to its people, to its mothers and daughters, desh aapke saath hai, sadan aapke saath hai… together we will find a solution”. He not only seemed to turn his face to the crisis, he also appeared to include members of parties across the aisle that had staged a walk-out only a few minutes earlier. That was a parliamentary moment. Unfortunately, in the last three days, Parliament saw too much of the bitterness of the pre-poll joust, and too few of such leavening moments. On Wednesday, Home Minister Amit Shah appealed, “with folded hands,” to Meiteis and Kukis to come to the talks table and, with the government, find a way out. It is now incumbent on parties that let Manipur down in the House, to pick up the threads outside it. Manipur needs more than spirited stump speeches.

First published on: 11-08-2023 at 10:04 IST
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