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Restraint Required


It cannot be said how Prime Minister Narendra Modi will choose to address the Manipur issue during his response in the Lok Sabha to the No-Confidence Motion on Thursday. The question is what the opposition expects him to say. At the present time, there are only platitudes to be uttered – the kind that opposition leaders have been abundantly churning out. No one has offered anything near a solution to the problem.

The Prime Minister cannot be expected to pull something magical out of his hat, just as it is illogical for him to reveal his strategy for the benefit of the disruptive forces. There is, however, one precondition to any moves towards a solution – any effort by any party to the conflict to achieve its objectives through use of force will need to be fully thwarted. While, very probably, talks are already underway between the Centre and the various contending groups, a solution can be negotiated only after peace prevails in the state. And, while there may be a lot of wishful thinking among the desk-borne ‘experts’ in this regard, the fact remains that, at present, it is proving a difficult task for the security forces. In the meanwhile, any premature adoption of a position by the Prime Minister would be self-defeating. This explains his silence, thus far. He cannot surrender the rights of any tribe or community on a whim or fancy, and certainly not that of his party’s government in the state, or the people it represents.

Manipur is a small state that is not just torn apart by internal differences, but it has also become the arena for interference by a number of external forces – from foreign governments to criminal networks that have developed profitable bases in the region. All these will need to be successfully countered and the real needs of the people identified for a way forward. For as long as one or the other group thinks it can have its way through force, there can be no real negotiations or a resolution acceptable to all. Just as has been the case, earlier, with the tricky relationship with China, and to a lesser extent, Pakistan, India’s political opposition should not pressurise the government to show all its cards and, thereby, prepare the adversaries. Any party that persists with this can justifiably be accused of serving foreign interests. Sadly, recent exposes have shown that some, at least, are already doing that.