Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Congress and Left allies releases common minimum agenda

Congress in Pre-Poll Alliance with Left Parties; After NPP, Cong Releases Manifestos; Congress Candidates Take no Defection Vow; Cold Wave Sweeps Across Manipur Hills

A common minimum agenda of the newly formed Manipur Progressive Secular Alliance (MPSA) was on launched February 5. The document has 18-point Common Agenda in all.

The Manipur Congress along with the CPI, CPI(M), RSP, JD(S) and Forward Block was formed on January 27 for the ensuing 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election of Manipur, with a common motive of defeating the BJP.

“Manipur Progressive Secular Alliance (MPSA) of INC, CPI, CPM, Forward Bloc, RSP & JD(S) was launched today with 18-point Common Agenda. We will have a 3D approach—determination, dedication & discipline—to defeat BJP, & form a new govt to protect democracy, diversity & Constitution,” AICC election observer Jairam Ramesh tweeted.

AICC leader Jairam Ramesh, Former Chief Minister of Manipur and CLP leader Okram Ibobi, Senior CPI leader Dr. Moirangthem Nara, CPI General Secretary Laishram Shotinkumar and CPM Manipur State Council General Secretary Kshetrimayum Shanta were among the leaders who were present in the media briefing of the launching of Manipur Progressive Secular Alliance (MPSA).

MPCC manifesto released

The Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) on February 4 released its Manifesto called ‘Policy Statement’ for the 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election 2022 scheduled to be held on February 27 and March 3 at Congress Bhawan BT Road in Imphal.

Among the 30 key promises made in the ‘Policy Statement’ to transform Manipur as one of the fast developing states in India, the MPCC assured to urge the Government of India (GOI) to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958; to preserve unity and integrity of Manipur, to reserve one-third of all government jobs for women and to provide 50,000 new jobs for youths annually.

The manifesto was released in the presence of senior Congress MP Jairam Ramesh, Bhakta Charan Das, former Chief Minister and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Okram Ibobi, MPCC President Nameirakpam Loken, Working President Dr. Khumujam Ratankumar, Former Congress MP Dr. Thokchom Meinya and other MPCC leaders.

The manifesto also promised to create Manipur Regiment, State Forest Development Corporation, flood and irrigation master plans, Manipur Trade Centre and establishment of Manipur Staff Selection Commission.

Apart from the 30 key-promises, the Manipur Congress set 11 goals for period 2022-2027. In the said goals, they have ensured one-third reservation for women in all government jobs and to create 50,000 new jobs annually for youths.

Considering agriculture as mainstay of the state, the Congress party set a target to become Manipur self-reliant in rice production and promote double and triple cropping by improving irrigation facilities.

Addressing the function, senior election observer, Manipur, All India Congress Committee, MP Jairam Ramesh said that manifesto of Congress party is for the survival and revival of Manipur by making Manipuris masters of Manipur.

Manipuris must be made masters of Manipur, not Nagpur. Manipur must be ruled and governed from the State, not from Nagpur,” said the MP, referring to the seat of the RSS headquarters.

Ramesh further said that the present government claimed their government as “double engine” but actually it is a “trouble engine” government for people of the state. With the formation of BJP government in Manipur, the progress of development has been derailed, he said.

But the promises and target set by party in the manifesto would surely bring back Manipur on the track of development, peace and prosperity, Jairam Ramesh asserted.

The manifesto covered almost all the sections of Manipuri society such as farmer, women, youth, etc. to bring inclusive and all round development, he added while informing that the manifesto is being released with the hope that Indian National Congress will guide the state again.

The state will be free from darkness and betrayal very soon, he stated while expressing confidence of the Congress party winning with majority.

While assuring to update the report of the performance of its election manifesto annually, he said that the party took their manifesto as sacred documents and will be committed to it.

Former Chief Minister and CLP leader Okram Ibobi said that the manifesto has been released with an aim to serve people of the state. He said that it was formulated carefully and cautiously as people would distrust them if the promises are not accomplished in future.

Ibobi also stated that the party will urge the GOI to constitute Manipur Regiment as its expenses are very high and couldn’t be borne by the state resources.

Some of the key promises made by MPCC in the manifesto are management of value-added tax rate in diesel and petrol to food and essential commodities price rise, creation of Loktak Lake Research and Training Centre, establishment of district guest house for every hill districts in the state capital, free critical medical treatment for children, Manipur Cultural Diversity Policy, minimum wages regulation for healthcare workers in private sector, review and update the list of NFSA beneficiaries.

It also included development of super-specialty sports infrastructure, formation of Manipur State Energy Policy, compensation for wrongly detained media persons, upgradation of Manipur Science and Technology Council as Technology Vetting Agency, overnight shelter homes for unorganised sector.

Some other targets of the party are to attract half a million tourist per year, to formulate ‘project emerald fishery’ scheme to develop terrace pisciculture in the hills, to develop satellite towns around the capital city, to give minimum infrastructure to all primary schools, to promote at least 5000 MSMEs yearly particularly for the local food processing industries, to ensure that Manipur is free from power cuts and power shortage.

Congress Candidates Take no Defection Vow

Manipur Congress party candidates for the ensuing 12th Manipur State Assembly election took a pledge on February 3 at various religious places promising to respect the people’s mandate and not defect to any other political parties in the next five years.

The pledge-taking ceremony was kicked off from Kangla Uttra considering its historic significance and its sanctity. It was followed by a ceremony at MBC Church, Chingmeirong; Lainingthou Sanamahi Temple at 1st MR Compound, Masjid Bapupara and Govindajee Temple, Palace Compound.

The procession for the pledge-taking was led by Bhakta Charan Das, All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of Manipur and was accompanied by MPCC senior leaders.

Addressing media on the sideline of the pledge-taking ceremony, CLP leader Okram Ibobi said that to maintain the democracy of India, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had passed an anti-defection law. But violating this Act, frequent defections have become rampant with the advent of the BJP government by adopting various means like money power and muscle power, the former Chief Minister Ibobi added.

The CLP leader said that, as the Congress party strongly believes in secularism, the pledge was carried out in almost all religious places in the state.

Poppy Plantations Worth Around Rs 12.35 Crore Destroyed in January

As a part of ‘War on Drugs’ by the state government, Imphal East district police along with a column of 15 Assam Rifles have arrested nine poppy cultivators and destroyed a total of 247 acres of poppy plantations with market value of Rs 12,35,00,000 in January, 2022.

Reports said, Imphal East Superintendent of police Maharabam Pradip told the media on February 2 in Imphal that 70 acres of poppy plantation at Aigejang hill range under the jurisdiction of Sagolmang police station were destroyed. The drive was carried out by a team of district police led by SDPO, Lamlai, Th Sudhir along with two teams of commando, Imphal East district accompanied by two women police commando of Sagolmang and a column of 15 Assam Rifles, Chingarel led by captain Shobit and forest department under his supervision.

He said during the poppy destruction, two poppy cultivators namely Seiminlal Khongsai alias Hemin, 32, son of Lemseh Khongsai of Phajang, Peren district, Nagaland presently staying at Khamenlok village and Ipiesap Samding, 35, son of Haigen Samding of Phanjang, Peren district, Nagaland presently staying at Khamenlok village were arrested. A case has been registered under ND and PS Act at Sagolmang police station for further investigation, he added.

He further said during the month of January, illicit poppy plantations at Champai hill range (12 acres), Chansang hill range (15 acres), Kongba Maru Hill range (10 acres), Maharani hill range (35 acres) and Aigijang hill range (70 acres) which falls under the jurisdiction of Sagolmang police station, Imphal East district have been destroyed by a combined team of Imphal East district police, forest department and Assam Rifles. Sagolmang police team have arrested six male cultivators and one female cultivator and altogether, five FIRs under ND and PS Act have been lodged for further investigation.

Furthermore,  poppy plantation at K Henjang village (25 acres), Gamnom village hill range (45 acres), Mlonghlam village hill range (35 acres) which falls under the jurisdiction of Thoubal Dam police station, Imphal East have been destroyed and one female and one male cultivator were arrested. Altogether, three FIRs under ND and PS Act have been lodged at Thoubal Dam police station, said the senior police officer.

A total of 247 acres of illicit poppy plantations were destroyed in January with an approximate market value of Rs 12,35,00,000, he said. A total of nine illicit poppy cultivators were arrested and eight FIRs were lodged, he added.

Governor Meets IGAR (South) on Security Matter

Manipur Governor La Ganesan discussed the security situation in Manipur as well as the issues concerning Indo-Myanmar border with IGAR (South) Major General Rajan Sharawat on February 2.

Reports quoting a release issued by IGAR (South) said the discussion was held while the IGAR (South) called on the governor at Raj Bhavan in Imphal.

During the meeting, the Governor appreciated the security forces for their steadfast dedication and devotion to duty in maintaining peace and tranquillity in the state in spite of numerous challenges, reports added.

The IGAR (South) also gave his assurance to the Governor of extending all cooperation and assistance by the Assam Rifles to the people of Manipur for achieving peace, development and prosperity, it added.

ECI Permits Public Political Meeting of 1,000 Persons

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has permitted physical public meetings of political parties or contesting candidates in designated open spaces with a maximum of 1,000 persons (instead of existing 500 persons) or 50 per cent of the capacity of the ground or the prescribed limit set by State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), whichever number is lesser.

However, it had banned all forms of road shows, pada yatras, cycle or bike or vehicle rallies and processions till February 11.

The decision of the ECI was taken after taking into consideration of the inputs, facts and circumstances and ground reports from state officials and the Health secretary and the requirements of necessary political activity in election mode by political parties in present situation, stated a release issued by ECI joint director (media) Anuj Chandak.

It said the commission has also enhanced the limit for door-to-door campaigns. Instead of 10 persons, now 20 persons, excluding security personnel will be allowed for door-to-door campaigns, but other instructions on door-to-door campaigns will continue, it added.

The commission has also granted relaxation for the political parties to the extent that indoor meetings of a maximum of 500 persons (instead of existing 300 persons) or 50 per cent of the capacity of the hall or the prescribed limit set by SDMA is allowed, the release mentioned.

It also stated that political parties and contesting candidates shall ensure the compliance of COVID appropriate behaviour and guidelines and also the model code of conduct at all occasions during the activities connected with elections.

The DEO concerned will identify and notify the designated spaces in advance for the aforesaid purposes, the release stated, adding that all remaining restrictions as contained in the Revised Broad Guidelines for Conduct of Elections 2022 issued on January 8 will continue to operate.

Cold Wave Sweeps Across Manipur hills

Mountain ranges of Mao area under Senapati district and Shiroi range of Ukhrul district have been witnessing snowfall for the last few days, while a severe cold weather is sweeping across Manipur as the state experienced a rare snowfall, affecting normal life both in hills and valley areas.

A video clip showing youths of Liyai village in Senapati district playing in the snow had gone viral in social media, following which, many youths started visiting the area. Many youths started visiting the base camp of Mount Iso, the highest peak of the state, to witness the snow. The snowfall was seen in some other villages like Purul and Maiba, reports said.

Manipur recorded a minimum temperature 4.81 degree Celsius on February 3  as per the daily weather report of the Directorate of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Manipur.

According to the directorate, the temperature has been fluctuating since January. On January 29, Senapati recorded a minimum of 1.8 degree Celsius and Ukhrul recorded 1.04 degree Celsius. On February 3, minimum temperature in Senapati was 5.28 degree Celsius and Ukhrul recorded at 4.81 degree Celsius.

Snowfall was also seen in the hill districts of Ukhrul and Senapati districts. The cold winds blew towards the valley districts, bringing down the temperature. In Manipur, snowfall commonly occurs in some high mountains like Koubru and Dzuko every year.

Reports quoting Joint Director of Environment and Climate Change Tourangbam Brajakumar said, “The state experienced snowfall only in severe cold month of January during the 1980s. Snowfall had not occurred since the last few decades but it started snowing again six years ago, showing signs of climate change.”

Three NSCN (I-M) Cadres Apprehended in Kangpokpi District

Three NSCN (I-M) cadres from Fen A Bolkot, Khunkhu Naga-Langka track, Kangpokpi district were arrested on February 2.

Reports quoting a release of Jwalamukhi Battalion of Assam Rifles under the aegis of headquarter 22 Sector, IGAR (East) said that based on a tip-off about 7 pm of February 1 of the presence of some NSCN (I-M) cadres for extortion in the area, the Assam Rifles battalion launched the operation and apprehended the 3 NSCN (I-M) cadres at 3.30 am of February 2.

The apprehended cadres are Mairikinang Abonmai, 50, son of late Khuichamdenang Abonmai; Maithon Liangmai, 50, son of late Chamhotpeng Malangmei and Siraibou Malangmai, 28, son of Khangehiusanang Malangmai all three from Langka village, Kangpokpi district. The Assam Rifles team seized one pistol, one shotgun and one hunting rifle. The apprehended persons along with the seized items have been handed over to Saparmeina police station, Kangpokpi district for further necessary steps, reports added.

Hills Districts Warns Highway Bandh on MNREGA Pending Funds issue

Hill districts in Manipur are likely to witness intense form of agitations, including highway bandh, ahead of 12th Manipur Legislative Assembly Election 2022, as the hill areas village chiefs decided to support the protest by the Manipur Panchayat Parishad over non-release of the pending Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) funds by the state government.

Reports said chiefs of villages in Kangpokpi district held a crucial meeting on February 3 at the district headquarters in the presence of Manipur Panchayat Parishad members over the non-release of MGNREGA pending funds. After a threadbare discussion, they unanimously resolved to support the agitations spearheaded by the Manipur Panchayat Parishad with a positive response from other hill areas village chiefs.

Addressing the media after the meeting, Laxmi Khatiwoda, vice-president, Champhai Block Chiefs/Chairmen Association, on behalf of the hills village chiefs, said that they have deliberated minutely over the non-release of MGNREGA pending fund by the state government and ultimately decided to support and endorse the Manipur Panchayat Parishad’s movement over the issue, reports added

Khatiwoda continued that as they have decided to support and endorsed Manipur Panchayat Parishad they have also unanimously decided to impose intense form of agitations including highway bandh from February 9 if the state Government fails to release the pending amount of Rs 113.87 crore meant for payment of wages of the MGNREGA sanctioned by the Centre on or before February 8.

The VP also said that the Centre Government had already sanctioned Rs 333,08,74,000 (Rupees Three Hundred Thirty Three Crore Eight Lakh and Seventy Four Thousand) on August 25, 2021 to the State Government of Manipur as Central assistance for implementation of the MGNREGA for the financial year 2021-22 and directed the state government to transfer these funds along with the state share to the State Employment Guarantee Fund for programme implementation within three days positively from the date of receipt of the funds.

However, the state government had released Rs 87 crore only against sanctioned amount by the Centre in August 2021, while keeping on hold Rs 113.87 crore meant for payment of wages of the MGNREGA, he said. “We are demanding the release of all the funds sanctioned by the Centre as the state government has no reason to delay in releasing the funds,” he added.

He continued that if the state government remained adamant towards our demand and failed to release the fund we will go ahead with our unanimous decision adopted today in collaboration with the Manipur Panchayat Parishad along with other hill areas village chiefs, reports added.

Mentioned may be made that the Manipur Panchayat Parishad and the elected Panchayati Raj Institutions functionaries across the six valley districts of Manipur, including Jiribam district had already resorted to various form of agitations against the non-release of funds for MGNREGA and other schemes being implemented through the PRIs.

After they boycotted the Republic Day celebration, they had also imposed a 38-hour bandh in the panchayat covered areas of the six districts on January 27 and which ended on January 28.

ATSUM Demands Apology from Union Home Minister Amit Shah

The All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) on February 4 stated that it is extremely perturbed by the Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren’s statement defending “the insult meted out to the tribal political leaders” by Union Home Minister Amit Shah during their recent visit to him.

Such an undemocratic, ‘brahmanical’ practice was a shocking disgrace that completely negates the principles of equality enshrined in the Constitution, ATSUM stated in a release.

“The home minister ought to explain and apologise to the tribal population of our state for mistreating our representatives in that manner,” ATSUM stated.

It is a huge disappointment that Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren and Works Minister Thongam Biswajit, instead of demanding justice for such an undignified discriminative conduct, defended the same by even embracing the discrimination as “our collective culture,” the release stated.

It is an embarrassment to learn that the respected Meitei political leaders wilfully practice this caste-based behaviour towards the Union ministers in Delhi, it further stated.

“We the tribal communities of Manipur do not practice any such discrimination among ourselves or towards others, and hence, this discrimination to our representatives is not acceptable to us. We condemn Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s discriminatory conduct and the deliberate false justification of the chief minister and the irrelevant defence of Minister Thongam Biswajit,” the release added.

ATSUM stated that the chief minister has repeatedly betrayed the interest of the state tribal communities. Even after vehemently refusing to table the HAC recommended ADC Bill 2021 illegally, ATSUM had trusted his government and signed an agreement on November 25, it stated.

Following the agreement, ATSUM had temporarily suspended agitations but the state government’s assurance that the ADC Bill 2021 shall be introduced by the government in the upcoming winter assembly session, 2021 was not honoured despite repeated reminders, it mentioned.

It further alleged the BJP-led government of deliberately betraying the tribal communities repeatedly and displaying its anti- tribal position.

“This is creating and increasing our sense of insecurity within the BJP led State Government. We condemn such anti tribal outbursts and wish to remind our chief minister to uphold our tribal interest as equal citizens of this state,” it added.

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