By Ningombam Bupenda Meitei
According to The Sangai Express (English edition) news – Dy CM gives clean chit to cops, dated 26th February, 2016 – it states, “Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister Gaikhangam has categorically stated that no Manipur police personnel harassed or assaulted or abused with communal words any team of the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF).” In the same news, the Home Minister of Manipur is recorded to have tabled his own statement on the floor of the House in Manipur Assembly, saying, “The Government of Manipur or the State police do not have any communal outlook and this I would like to convey to the NSF through the Manipur Legislative Assembly.”
According to The Times of India, Five cops suspended in Manipur, NSF calls off stir, dated 27th February, 2016, it states, “The Manipur government has suspended five police personnel, including Sub Inspector (SI), bringing to an end the tussle between Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and Manipur Police over harassment of NSF leaders by some policemen.” The same news also further conveys, “Following the suspension, the NSF has reportedly withdrawn its ban on movement of vehicles owned by Manipuris in Naga areas.” In the said news, it also writes, “In a letter sent to the president of NSF, Manipur Additional DGP C Doungel said five police personnel have been suspended in connection with the February 14 incident and that a departmental inquiry is being contemplated against them.”
According to Business Standard, Congress MLAs in Manipur revolt against home minister, dated 28 February, 2016, Nongthombam Biren, Congress MLA, said, “We held an emergency meeting at my residence on Saturday night. We resolved to urge Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh to take up appropriate actions against Gaikhangam.” He also further stressed, “We are demanding a special meeting of the Congress Legislature Party on Monday [29th February, 2016] to discuss the issue.”
The events can be chronologically summarised as follows;
14th February, 2016: The incident, regarding the NSF’s alleged issue with Manipur police, took place.
22nd February, 2016: NSF decided to ban Meiteis/Manipuris’ vehicles in Naga areas.
23rd February, 2016: Manipur DGP talks to Nagaland DGP on NSF ban of Meiteis/Manipuris’ vehicles.
24th February, 2016: NSF started banning Meitei/Manipuris’ vehicles in Naga areas.
25th February, 2016: Manipur DIG Range 1 I.K. Muivah – NSF talk on the NSF ban failed.
26th February, 2016: Home Minister Gaikhangam, in Manipur Assembly, said no wrong done by Manipur police to NSF on 14th February, 2016.
27th February, 2016: Home Minister Gaikhangam suspended 5 Manipur police personnel in connection with the 14th February, 2016 incident.
28th February, 2016: 20 Congress MLAs revolted against the Home Minister Gaikhangam, who is also the President of Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee, for suspending 5 Manipur police personnel.
29th February, 2016: A special meeting of CLP (Congress Legislature Party) under the chairmanship of Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh, who is also the CLP Leader, to take place to discuss the unfolding events and issues related.
20 Congress MLAs can bring a new Congress government in Manipur. How?
In the Manipur Assembly of 60 MLAs, the ruling Indian National Congress Party has 47 MLAs, and the rest 13 seats are distributed as; AITC (5 MLAs), NPF (4 MLAs), BJP (2 MLAs), NCP (1 MLA) and LJP (1 MLA).
If 20 INC MLAs revolt and go along with AITC (5), BJP (2), NCP (1) and LJP (1), then the combine strength is 29 MLAs, which is 2 MLAs short to form a new government or to clear the no-confidence motion against the present Ibobi government. To get the magic number of 31, 2 more MLAs can be made to move out of the remaining 27 MLAs of INC to join the team of 20 MLAs. In the case of Nabam Tuki government’s downfall in Arunachal Pradesh, the opposition came from the Congress MLAs only, and after the formation of the new Congress government under the new Chief Ministership of another Congress MLA Kalikho Pul, who also has proved majority and passed the floor test in the state assembly, with the support of 40 MLAs (27 of INC, 11 of BJP and 2 independents) out of 58 membered House [60 seats: 58 sitting MLAs and 2 seats vacant], the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi congratulated Kalikho Pul on becoming the new Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh. Congress’ Nabam Tuki has 18 MLAs. According to NDTV news, Chief Minister Kalikho Pul proves majority in Arunachal Pradesh floor test, dated 25th February, 2016, Mr. Pul says, “Whoever has the majority can form the government. In a House of 58 members, 30 MLAs are required to form the government and we have support of 41. Moreover, to become the CLP leader, support of only 23 members is required and I have 28 with me.”
The point of bringing Pul’s formation of a new government in Arunachal Pradesh, another North Eastern state of India, is to acknowledge that the Congress party forms another government under a new leadership and more importantly than it is the fact that the party’s Vice President Rahul Gandhi, instead of taking any otherwise actions, congratulated the new leadership of Pul. So, in Manipur, if 20 Congress MLAs revolt and are not happy with the present Manipur Government’s decision taken by the state Home Minister, then the Congress MLAs too, like their counterparts in Arunachal Pradesh, can alter the state government of Okram Ibobi Singh and bring another Congress government under a new leadership which may, and even can, also be supported by BJP, like in Arunachal Pradesh’s 11 BJP MLAs supporting the Pul Congress government.
Why is the revolt and demand of 20 Congress MLAs logical and right?
20 Congress MLAs revolted not to bring a new Congress government but to question the illogicality of the decision of the state Home Minister. The state Home Minister, who is also both the Deputy Chief Minister and President of MPCC, has first stated, not informally in any meeting like party’s meetings or CLP or function, but on the floor of the House in Manipur Assembly, in his own full right and knowledge as the Home Minister of the state, that Manipur police personnel have done no wrong in connection with 14th February, 2016 incident. If the Home Minister has tabled his own statement on the floor of the House, then to take a decision, which becomes inconsistent and contrary to his own official version tabled in the House, it not only leads to the illogicality of the Home Minister’s own tabled statements but also the contempt of the privileges of the House as the House is in session. A privilege motion can be moved against the decision of the Home Minister outside the Manipur Assembly as that decision of his has become both public and contempt of the constitutional proceedings of the Manipur Assembly because no member of the House can act or take any decision which becomes contrary to what he or she has tabled on the floor of the House, and if such decision is taken, then it only amounts to the mockery of not only the Manipur Assembly which is currently in its session, but also the Constitution of India under which not only the Home Minister has taken an oath but also the existence of Manipur Assembly is ensured and safeguarded. The present budget session of Manipur Assembly, with 15 days of session and 11 sittings, will conclude on March 4, 2016.
The Home Minister, in Manipur Assembly, states, “The Government of Manipur or the State police do not have any communal outlook and this I would like to convey to the NSF through the Manipur Legislative Assembly.” This statement of his results in admitting, all by himself – the Home Minister, that the Manipur police personnel had done no wrong to NSF on 14th February, 2016. But, the suspension decision, taken against the 5 Manipur police personnel, within 24 hours by the Home Minister shows nothing but the exposure and painting of Manipur Government as communal. By suspending, the communal colour of Manipur Government is accepted and publicly exposed by the Home Minister. The question is also, has the Home Minister accepted that Manipur Government was communal and therefore, the decision of suspending those 5 Manipur police personnel had to take place later? But, the reality is Manipur Government under the leadership of Okram Ibobi Singh is not communal, but if Ibobi’s government is not communal, then whether the Home Minister’s suspension to prove and probe the communal nature of Manipur Government is to be accepted or the secular and inclusive character of Ibobi’s Government is to be acknowledged? What has the suspension order proved other than merely showing the communal colour and agenda of the present Manipur Government, thereby meaning both the Chief Minister and Home Minister besides Congress Party as communal in Manipur? Is this presentation and display of the Congress Party as communal in Manipur wanted by none other than the state PCC President? Is this suspension order not an acceptance of showing that the Congress Party’s government is communal in Manipur and hence, a probe is required to get down into the truth of it?
Why has the Home Minister tabled the police report in the assembly and said that the Manipur police had done no wrong to NSF in the presence of the Speaker of Manipur Assembly? Will the Home Minister accept his own official statement in the Manipur Assembly or his own decision to suspend 5 Manipur police personnel? Will he accept to honour the authority and constitutionality of the temple of democracy, Manipur Assembly, or stand by his own judgement, settled and made out of the Manipur Assembly, thereby ridiculing his own official statements tabled in the Manipur Assembly?
It is in this context of honouring the Constitution of India and dignity of the House (Manipur Assembly) in session that the revolt, anger and decision of 20 Congress MLAs is not only ethically right but also both constitutionally and legally right. The revolt is very much constitutional as the revolt is essentially and primarily to uphold the dignity and honour of the Manipur Assembly, enshrined in the Constitution of India. It is here that the 20 Congress MLAs have initiated and openly supported the very ideas of true democratic principles given by the founding fathers of the Constitution of India under which all the MLAs, including the Home Minister also, have taken an oath.
Conclusion: Honour Manipur Assembly and the people of Manipur
If the present Home Minister who states an official statement in the House and takes an official decision outside the House that ridicules and rejects the honour and sanctity of the House, then both the people of Manipur and MLAs in Manipur Assembly will democratically, constitutionally and legally bring the present Home Minister into task. The resignation of the Home Minister by himself will not only send the maturity in his own political principled life but also strengthen and uphold the honour and dignity of the Manipur Assembly which ultimately is nothing but the honour and dignity of the people of Manipur. The Indian National Congress party has a rule of its own party of ‘No two posts to an individual’, in which the present Congress MLA Gaikhangam should not hold both the posts of Home Minister and MPCC President together, but in the case of Manipur PCC, not only the PCC President holds Home portfolio but also is the Deputy Chief Minister of Manipur. In fact, the same individual holds 3 posts ( Deputy Chief Minister, Home Minister and MPCC President), though there is no post called ‘Deputy Chief Minister’ which is recognised and deliberated separately and distinctly in the Constitution of India because ‘Deputy Chief Minister or Deputy Prime Minister’ is treated like any other minister while taking an oath.
If one Congress man can hold 3 posts at the same time, thereby going against the principle of the party which says ‘one post per one man’, then the larger fundamental question is not only posing against Manipur BJP that how long its President Th. Chouba will continue as its President in Manipur, but also to ask Indian National Congress party in Manipur that when will the Congress Party start honouring its own principle and start publicly showing to the people of Manipur that the Congress Party is a party of principles and ethics, thereby the rule of ‘no two posts to one person or one post per one person’ is to be followed by all Congress men and women including the gentleman who enjoys the position of 3 chairs – Deputy Chief Minister, Home Minister, President of Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee.
The people of Manipur are extremely so tolerant but their tolerance should not be considered as a sign of weakness and disunity, rather such tolerance of exemplary nature is the sign of matured civilization of more than 2000 years of Manipuri civilization and philosophy.
*Ningombam Bupenda Meitei, educated at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, is a poet and author of 2 books and Founder of The Nehruvian. His third book ‘On Nehru Gandhi family’ is awaited.