In an exclusive interview with WION, Ram Madhav, the national general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shared his party's vision for the roah ahead if it comes to power in Manipur. He spoke about the crisis of economic blockades in the state, and promised to make Manipur a "Bandh-mukt" state. The BJP general secretary blamed the Ibobi Singh-led Congress government for creating discord among people by bifurcating seven of the state's nine districts. He promised the BJP would go after political leaders behind extra-judicial killings and to end the violence in the state so much so that there would be no need for the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
Q: Why is Manipur so important in the scheme of things for the BJP? A: We started our victory march with Assam. Then we did well in other states. Now it is Manipur stop. The present government is very corrupt and problems faced by people are severe. There is high unemployment and violence.
Q: Manipur is the past has seen lot of blockades. It has become a state of blockades. How do you see this problem? A: Manipur has suffered enormously because of blockades. The state has lost hundreds of days because of it and per day it costs 30 crores. Blockades have also happened because of the political interest of the ruling party. We have asked the state government to end the blockade immediately and sent extra security forces. The state government didn’t act. If we come to power, we will make sure that blockades don’t take place.
Q: Impression is that BJP didn’t do much to end the blockade because the government was concerned about the Naga Accord? A: That was the wrong propaganda which the local government had indulged in. It is incorrect.
It was a misunderstanding. The government of India can only assist the state government. It cannot take law and order under its control. We have given the state 170 companies of the para-military. Still, the chief minister (CM) said that I cannot do anything. He said you do it. He was afraid of taking strict action against people who created a problem for the whole valley. It is a sad situation. CM expresses his own helplessness.
Q: Why basic details of the accord have not been shared? A: It is a propaganda. It is a framework for a better agreement tomorrow. It’s not the final agreement. It is a one-page agreement. It doesn’t talk about Manipur. It only talks about the basic parameters under which agreement will be worked out with the Nagas. There is no question of the territorial compromise of Manipur and yet, to rake up the issue reeks of political desperation and nothing else. There is nothing secret in the document. The cooking has become and you want to taste it. Let it happen.
Q: Seven districts were created which led to blockade. How do you see it? A: Chief Ministers have the right to create districts. These are administrative decisions. The Vajpayee government created three states peacefully. Look at the Congress. They created Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and bad blood happened. It is a similar situation. They should have created districts in a manner which should not have led to political strife. That’s the whole problem. People of the state feel that Ibobi has been power for 15 years why did he need seven districts two months before the elections.
Q: Manipur cannot be limited to the issue of blockades. There are problems unique to this state and how do you intend to solve them? A: Right now in this election, it is all about corruption. The corruption needs to end immediately. Manipur needs to be a blockade-free state. We will create employment here. People have been killed in extra-judicial killings in Manipur. There are thousands of widows. There is lawlessness perpetrated by the elected government. That will be put to an end. Political masters will be brought to books who were behind extra-judicial killings.
Q: If you are talking about extra-judicial killing then you have to deal with AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act). How do you resolve this issue? Iron Sharmila is contesting elections on this issue? A: Once we are in power we will look into it. AFSPA is not in the valley but where it exists, it exists because of violence. We will end violence in the valley. There are no jobs here. This is the reason for insurgency. That will create a situation that AFSPA wouldn't be required.
Q: You are incharge of the North East. The PM has spoken about Look East politics. How do you integrate it? A: It is very important to us. Manipur is a major trade transit point and Manipur is very important in this scheme. This is the reason why we want a government in Manipur.
Q: What makes you confident that the BJP will come to power A: People are fed up with 15-years of misrule and Congress CM is corrupt and people want different leadership which they see in PM Modi. We will provide that no nonsense leadership.
Q: But what about ending the anxiety over Nagalim which exists in Manipur? A: Absolutely. I would say whatever be the nature of talks with Naga leaders, the territorial integrity of Manipur will not be compromised. Its territory is sacred for us. No territory can be changed without the clearance of the state government.