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Angomcha Bimol Akoijam fires first salvo; Pulls up Modi’s BJP for being silent on Manipur

Anchomcha Bimol Akoijam speaking on the floor of the Lok Sabha on July 1 midnight.

Delivering a fiery maiden speech in Lok Sabha, Bimol criticized the absence of Manipur in the President’s address and pointed out that this is not a “simple absence” but a reminder of current Rashtra Chetna (Indian national consciousness) which excludes people.

TFM Desk

In a powerful and impassioned debut speech delivered just before midnight on July 1st, newly elected Congress Member of Parliament Angomcha Bimol Akoijam who represents Inner Manipur Parliamentary constituency took the floor of the Lok Sabha, vehemently criticizing the Narendra Modi-led BJP government and its allies for their silence on the ongoing crisis in Manipur.

Akoijam, addressing the parliament for the first time, demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party acknowledge the plight of the people in Manipur. He asserted, “I would keep quiet the moment the Prime Minister opens his mouth and the nationalist party says that Manipur is part of India and we care for the people of that state. Only then I will accept what is nationalism in our face.”

A Midnight Speech Marking a Dark Hour

Drawing parallels between the timing of his speech and the grim situation in Manipur, Akoijam began by highlighting the irony of discussing such a grave issue as the clock approached midnight. He poignantly noted that in his home state, it was already two hours ahead, symbolizing the disconnect and neglect faced by the people of Northeast India from the central government.

Highlighting the Absence of Manipur in the President’s Address

Akoijam’s speech was a scathing critique of the government’s failure to mention Manipur in the President’s address. He emphasized that this omission was not just a simple oversight but a deliberate act of exclusion. Akoijam said, “This is not a simple absence. It is a reminder of a Rashtra-Chetna now which excludes people”.

It may be mentioned that “Rashtra chetna” is a Hindi term that translates to “Indian national consciousness” or “Indian national awareness.” It refers to the collective consciousness or awareness of a nation’s identity, values, culture, and the shared sense of belonging among its people.

In the context of Angomcha Bimol Akoijam’s speech, he uses “rashtra chetna” to highlight the lack of national awareness and recognition towards the people and issues of Manipur, suggesting that the government’s silence and neglect indicate that the people of Manipur are not considered an integral part of the nation’s consciousness.

He drew attention to the dire situation where more than 60,000 people have been living in relief camps for over a year, in conditions he described as “wretched.”

“If anybody has read Partition of the Subcontinent, which I have done, you are witnessing the same thing. People are living in wretched conditions that I cannot even mention here. 60,000 people homeless is not a joke. Two hundred plus people died,” Akoijam declared, painting a vivid picture of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Manipur.

Civil War-Like Conditions and Government Inaction

Akoijam did not hold back in describing the severity of the situation in Manipur, likening it to a civil war with armed groups clashing while the Indian state remained a “mute spectator.” He questioned how such chaos could prevail in one of the most militarized areas of the country, where central armed forces and armed policemen outnumber the civil police.

He accused the government of continuing a colonial mindset by neglecting the tragedy of Manipur. “Today we are observing a day where we begin new criminal laws seemingly discarding the colonial heritage. But as Ashish Nandy says, colonialism is a state of mind. It is a psychological phenomenon. It is an outlook, the way you look at the people, the way you look at the world,” Akoijam stated, emphasizing the continuity of colonial attitudes in post-colonial India.

A Call for Recognition and Action

Akoijam passionately argued that the silence from the government was a clear message to the people of Manipur and the Northeast that they do not matter in the larger scheme of the Indian state. He invoked the names of notable Manipuri figures like Major Laishram Jyotin Singh, Major Ngangom Joy Dutta Singh, Mary Kom, Sarita Kunjarani, and Meerabai Chanu, who have brought laurels to India, to underscore his point.

He urged the members of the House to consider the plight of the 60,000 people in relief camps and the anguish of the mothers and widows among them before talking about nationalism. “Only then we will understand what this tragedy means,” he asserted.

Akoijam concluded his maiden speech with a heartfelt plea for recognition and action from the Union Government. He reiterated his readiness to remain silent if the Prime Minister acknowledged the crisis in Manipur and expressed genuine concern for its people. He ended with a voice resonating with the pain and urgency of his message.

As the House adjourned to meet again on July 2, 2024, at 11 a.m., Akoijam’s powerful speech left an indelible mark, calling attention to the urgent need for action and empathy towards the suffering people of Manipur.

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