IMPHAL: Even as Manipur is approaching the Assembly elections, the Naga accord has been the primary bone of contention between the Congress and the BJP with Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating out clearly it will not affect the Manipuris.
On Tuesday, Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi asked the Prime Minister to make public the contents of the Centre’s “pre-paid Naga accord” stating even the Manipur Chief Minister is not aware of the contents.
“As you have pre-paid electricity service in Manipur, Modiji had signed a pre-paid Naga accord. The details of it are only in Modiji’s mind. Nobody–not even Central ministers and Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh–knows what’s there in the accord,” Gandhi told people at a Congress rally in the Imphal Valley.
It is noteworthy that the accord was signed in 2015 with the Isak-Muivah faction of major Naga insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM). One of its most contentious demands has been the creation of “Greater Nagaland” by slicing-off the Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur, besides Assam and Arunachal.
If the Centre accedes to the demand, Manipur will be reduced to less than one-fifth of what it is today. This is the reason for the conflict between the Nagas and the Meiteis (Manipuris).
On Saturday, Modi had reassured people in the Valley, saying that “there is not a single word in the accord that will harm Manipur’s territorial integrity… The Congress is trying to divide Manipur by spreading lies to gain mileage in the polls.”
By repeatedly asking BJP to reveal the accord’s contents, the Congress has virtually managed to polarise the Meiteis, who form a large population in the valley. The Meiteis are pre-dominantly Hindus and make up for around 65 per cent of the State’s population.
The Congress has targeted the Meiteis to retain their power. In every rally, the party is trying to scare the Meiteis into believing that the Centre had compromised on Manipur’s territorial integrity by signing the agreement with NSCN-IM.
In his speech, interestingly, Gandhi did not utter a single word on the ongoing four-month long “economic blockade”, enforced on two national highways by the United Naga Council (UNC).
Gandhi may have given it a miss but the Congress is trying to convince the Meiteis that BJP colluded with UNC and NSCN-IM in enforcing the blockade.
The BJP argued that law and order was a State subject and as such, it was Ibobi government’s duty to remove the blockade. But the Congress said it was not doing so to avoid collateral damage as women were squatting on the highways at the behest of NSCN-IM.
The Congress has set its sights on 40 of the state’s 60 seats in the Valley.