February 22, 2020
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‘Centre’s Talks Won’t Upset Meitei Interests’

BJP's Ram Madhav, in an interview to Outlook, says the popular expectation is that the Centre should do more in Manipur...

‘Centre’s Talks Won’t Upset Meitei Interests’
Photograph by Jitender Gupta
‘Centre’s Talks Won’t Upset Meitei Interests’

As the BJP’s general secretary in charge of northeastern states, Ram Madhav says the popular expectation is that the Centre should do more in Manipur. He talks to Outlook’s Anoo Bhuyan.

On the urgent issue of the blockade…a tripartite discussion has been held to resolve it. What can we expect?

The blockade is unfortunate and incorrect. Those who are managing this are not fighting with the chief minister—the vict­ims are the people of the valley. The blockade should end. When we say ‘tripartite’, this is actually an internal matter of Manipur that the state government should handle. Its inefficiency and vested interests are leading to a situation where the Centre has to intervene.

So what can the central government actually do here?

When the state government sought paramilitary and central government forces, we provided them but none was used. The state government is trying to blame the Centre. But constitutionally the Centre has limited powers in law and order when there is a government in the state.

Several analysts say the BJP was doing well before the new districts were anno­unced, but has this scrambled your chances?

Creation of new districts is well within the rights of any government, including that of Ibobi Singh. But why did he not do it in 15 years? Having created a situation where you wanted to maximise political benefits, you pushed the state to an anarchic situation—and now you’re unable to handle it. People are seeing this even while they see the benefit in creation of districts. As for us, there’s an expectation that the Centre should do more, because they are frustrated with the state government. They don’t realise the constitutionally limited role the Centre has to play.

You said you don’t want any community to feel marginalised. How will this be balanced against the talks between the union government and NSCN-IM? Any cause for insecurity to people especially in the valley?

There’s absolutely no question of compromising the territorial integrity of Manipur in any central government actions. Also, there’s no reason why Meiteis or others should feel that their interests will be sacrificed because of negotiations the Centre is doing.

If this is the case, then why not release more information on the Naga Framework Accord that is being worked out?

See, it is a one-page understanding. It’s a framework, not a final agreement, based on which further negotiations will happen. How can we disclose anything? That doesn’t mean there’s anything secret. This is sacrosanct: on territorial integrity there is no compromise. On the contrary, the BJP as a party will fully secure the interests of the Meiteis living in the valley. We will fully address their concerns about their language, culture, lands.

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