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‘No Trace of Sympathy’: Modi-Shah’s Reply to the Opposition in Parliament Was an Insult to Manipur

Parliamentary debates should not be treated as school debate competitions. They are not about defeating your opponent. The government does not win by indulging in rhetoric and theatrics but has to give responsible answers.  

“Modi is a master troll,” gushed a star fan of the prime minister, gloating over the success of his speech given as reply to the opposition’s no-confidence motion in parliament. Is there anything left to be said about the speech after such praise? This is the image of Prime Minister Modi in the eyes of his supporters!

Prime Minister Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters are deriving an obscene pleasure from his nearly two-hour long speech attacking, mocking the Congress party, full of half truths and innuendos.

Political analysts and mediapersons are complaining about Rahul Gandhi’s lack of preparation and praising Modi and Amit Shah’s brilliant oratory. It is being said that they had come with full preparation while the opposition, especially Gandhi, was not prepared. The commentators felt that the prime minister and the home minister had defeated the opposition in the parliamentary debate. But as Asim Ali rightly reminded, parliamentary debates should not be treated as school debate competitions. They are not about defeating your opponent. They are serious affairs, dealing with the lives of the people of India.

The government does not win by indulging in rhetoric and theatrics but has to give responsible answers.

The home minister made many misleading statements. He claimed that the Kuki  infiltrators entered Manipur because of the violence in Myanmar and it led to anxiety among the Meitei people, which then led to violence in the state.

The media did not question his claim but the Kuki community has strongly objected to the home minister’s statement. The Kuki MLAs, including those of the BJP, have asked him to prove his claim. But the media did not consider it necessary to question the home minister on providing an explanation on the claim.

Apart from this, the home minister claimed that an organisation named Kuki Democratic Front is fighting in Myanmar, and the conflict in Myanmar led to many Kukis crossing over from Myanmar into Manipur for their safety.

According to news reports, the Kuki groups in Myanmar have refuted Shah’s allegation on its presence in Manipur.

Why was this misrepresentation not questioned? Apart from the misrepresentation, the statement also revealed that the Union government largely agrees with the description of the Manipur crisis as given by the Meitei majoritarian Manipur government. Then how can it be expected to establish peace in Manipur if it is so openly partisan towards the majority?

Also read: PM Modi’s Speech: Shifting Focus From Manipur Violence to Launching a Diatribe Against Congress

No questions were asked in the parliament about the home minister’s misrepresentation in many cases. Shah said that Ukraine and Russia had stopped the war for three days at the behest of Modi. The foreign ministry of the Modi government refuted this claim.

But why didn’t the media question it? The wrong statement made by the home minister regarding Kalavati and Gandhi will be considered as a political statement. And they are not obligated to be factually right. Misrepresentation in parliament is a big crime. But why is this not our concern? Why are falsehood, half-truths by the government being accepted as legitimate given that they help it in navigating through the debate? Is this not considered as cheating the people of India? Leave alone asking these questions, the home minister is being praised for having come of age and is lauded as an ace speaker.

The rhetoric of the prime minister is considered to be his specialty. That he is crass, uncouth, vicious is considered necessary for his popularity. His aggressive and violent language has come to be considered appropriate for the person of the highest position of the country.

Some people in the media are saying in a hushed voice that the prime minister should have said something more on Manipur. But they do not have the courage to say that how can it be accepted that the most important subject of the country, Manipur, was considered by the prime minister to be worth only for less than ten minutes in his two-hour speech. That too was nothing but empty rhetoric.

“The country is with Manipur or this House is with Manipur” is no consolation to the violence-torn state. This is not the problem of Manipur. The problem is that the minority Kuki population of Manipur is saying that the BJP government is not with them. The problem is that Manipur is divided into two parts and both have become enemies of each other. ‘That the sun of peace will rise on Manipur’ is no assurance for the victims of violence in Manipur. Such empty rhetoric doesn’t work when the opposition wants to know what steps have been taken by the government to stop the violence in Manipur. But the media has declared victory for the government.

However, Manipur appeared not to be an issue of importance for the prime minister. It was very clear from the space that he gave to Manipur in his two-hour long speech. It was all about himself. When he was giving the speech, massive violence had taken place in Haryana, near Delhi, due to the negligence or connivance of his own party’s government. And after that, the government unleashed massive violence on the Muslims, arresting them indiscriminately and bulldozing their houses and shops. But in the prime minister’s speech, there was no mention of this violence.

Also read: Special: Manipur Violence Broke Out Days Before Mha Was to Finalise Kuki Accord That CM Did Not Support

Forget a word of regret or condemnation. There was not a word of consolation for those killed. Will the opposition have to bring a new no-confidence motion for Haryana as well so that the prime minister or the Union government open their mouths? After the violence in Haryana, the Punjab and Haryana high court made a strong comment on the government’s bulldozing of the Muslim houses and termed it as “ethnic cleansing”. But the Union government is behaving as if nothing has happened. Thousands of people have become homeless near Delhi and the prime minister is laughing and joking with his courtier MPs in the House.

The BJP government’s reply to the opposition’s no-confidence motion was an insult to Manipur. There was no regret, no trace of sympathy for the plight of Manipur in the speeches of Modi and Shah. No matter how much the BJP’s supporters clap and dance, the people of India must be worried about the cruel self-obsession of their rulers.

In those who still have humanity left, the parliamentary debate and the response of the prime minister and the home minister left feelings of sadness, despair, anger and shame. Do the people of Manipur, do we deserve this from the Government of India?

It was a matter of great pity that the members of the government and the ruling party, the BJP, in the House were shouting, joking and laughing while the dead bodies in Manipur were waiting for burial for three months. For how long can a society survive with so much callousness and so much cruel apathy?