The Congress directed three pointed questions at Prime Minister Narendra Modi today and sought to know why he had not visited Manipur in the over three months since the state began witnessing ethnic violence.
Opening the debate on the no-confidence motion against the government in the Lok Sabha, Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi tore into the Centre and said he had three questions to ask of the Prime Minister.
“Why did the Prime Minister not visit Manipur? Rahul Gandhi went, MPs from the INDIA alliance went and even the Home Minister and the Minister of State for Home (Nityanand Rai) visited the state. Being the chief of the country, why did PM Modi not go there,” Mr Gogoi asked amid the thumping of desks by opposition MPs.
The second question from the MP, who is the deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, was why it took the Prime Minister nearly 80 days to say anything on the Manipur violence issue.
“When he did speak, he did so for only 30 seconds. Since then, there have been no words of sympathy and no appeal for peace from him. His ministers say we will speak. Nobody has stopped them, but the importance of the Prime Minister’s words is not the same as a minister’s. If PM Modi takes a step to ensure peace, it will carry more weight than that of a minister or an MP,” said Mr Gogoi.
The third question was on Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh. Mr Gogoi asked why PM Modi had not sacked the chief minister so far.
“When polls were approaching and you needed to do your politics in Gujarat, you changed the chief minister there, not once, but twice. Ahead of elections in Uttarakhand, you changed the state chief minister probably four times. A change was made in Tripura too. Why have you reserved special blessings for the Manipur chief minister, who has himself accepted that there was an intelligence failure because of him,” the Congress MP from Assam asked.
Listing out his reasons for PM Modi’s silence, Mr Gogoi alleged, “It was because the state government failed to deal with the ethnic violence in Manipur and the Home Department and the National Security Advisor failed to handle the situation.”
“The third reason for the Prime Minister’s silence is that he does not like to accept his mistakes. He will never accept publicly that his state government has failed. He prefers remaining silent to accepting his mistakes,” Mr Gogoi said.
The Congress MP said the opposition had moved the no-confidence motion not for numbers, but to get justice for Manipur.
“If Manipur is burning, entire India is burning, if Manipur is divided, the country is divided. It was our demand that as the leader of the country, Prime Minister Modi should come to the House and speak about Manipur. However, he kept a ‘maun vrat’ (vow of silence) that he will neither speak in the Lok Sabha nor in the Rajya Sabha. Through the no-confidence motion, we want to break his vow of silence,” a PTI report quoted the Congress MP as saying.
“When people were gasping for breath during the second wave of Covid, the Prime Minister was seeking votes in West Bengal. When women were being assaulted in Manipur, the PM was seeking votes in Karnataka. What kind of nationalism is this that places power above the nation,” Mr Gogoi asked
The MP said it was a matter of grave concern that a government which talked about “one India” had created “two Manipurs – one living in the hills and the other in the valley”.
He recalled that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited Gujarat after the riots in 2002.
Hitting out at PM Modi on his silence on important issues, Mr Gogoi said, “When award-winning women wrestlers were protesting on the streets, the Prime Minister remained silent. When 750 farmers lost their lives during the agitation, the PM was silent. In 2020, when Delhi witnessed riots and a foreign leader was visiting India, the Prime Minister remained silent.”
“When we questioned the government on incursions by China, the Prime Minister remained silent. When a former lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir said he had sought protection for the soldiers in Pulwama but was turned down, the PM remained silent,” the MP alleged.
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