One of the two Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs in the Manipur Assembly on Wednesday resigned from the party and joined the Congress. Khumukcham Joykishan Singh’s resignation was a mark of his protest against the Centre’s inability to end a crisis in the state that emerged after members of the United Naga Council launched an indefinite economic blockade in Manipur on November 1.
“The people of Manipur have been facing untold miseries owing to the economic blockade for the last 51 days,” Singh told The Times of India. His resignation is being seen as a blow to the BJP, as the state goes for Assembly elections early next year. However, the party said Singh had resigned of his own volition. “His resignation will not affect the party’s prospects in the coming election,” a BJP leader told the daily.
The state BJP members also claimed that the Centre had been very active and had sent paramilitary forces to Manipur to ensure security along the national highways.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh (pictured above) told The Indian Express that the United Naga Council was responsible for the tension in the state. He said the outfit was a “mouthpiece and frontal organisation” of the insurgent group of National Socialist Council of Nagaland–Isak-Muivah. He also accused the Centre of inaction. “Since the central government is in peace talks with the NSCN-IM, they can easily put pressure on the UNC to call off the economic blockade, which has caused so much suffering here,’’ he said.
The UNC had called for an economic blockade of the two arterial highways leading into the state to protest against the state government’s decision to upgrade the Sadar Hills and Jiribam areas to full-fledged districts on November 1. The blockade was imposed after the Manipur government announced the formation of seven new districts. On December 12, the Home Ministry had said in a statement that no one would be allowed to take the law into their hands.
However, the economic blockade has left the state reeling, with an array of attacks on the police. On December 18, the Manipur government imposed a curfew in Imphal East district as a precautionary measure after a strike against the NSCN paralysed the region.
The Congress got another fillip with the lone Nationalist Congress Party MLA in the 60-member Assembly joining the ruling party in the state, reported Assam Tribune. “Since I, along with my party leaders and all functionaries, have merged with the Congress, I will remain as a Congress legislator in the Assembly,” Laishom Ibomsa Singh told The Times of India.