Ahead of Assembly polls scheduled on March 4 and March 8, Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has said that he is ready for tripartite talks with the United Naga Council (UNC) to end the economic blockade, which has been going on for the past three months.
The indefinite economic blockade called by the UNC has been on since November 1, 2016. The UNC is protesting against the state government’s decision to create seven new districts by bifurcating the existing ones, and upgrading Sadar Hills to a full-fledged district.
When asked whether the state government was ready for tripartite talks with the UNC to resolve the ongoing crisis, Singh told PTI, “Yes, we are ready.”
With the blockade crippling the land-locked state, it has become a major election issue. Political parties have been blaming each other for the situation.
The chief minister accused the BJP of having a “tacit understanding with the UNC”.
“Recently Union minister Prakash Javedekar had said that if the chief minister resigns and President’s Rule is imposed, the economic blockade will be lifted in two days. This shows that UNC and BJP are hand in gloves with each other,” Ibobi Singh alleged.
He also hit back at Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s allegation that the blockade was a result of a “political conspiracy” hatched by the Congress government to divert attention from its “failures”.
“If you go there you will see that womenfolk threatened by the NSCN (IM) are sitting on the highway. We cannot fire left and right to lift the blockade. The Centre needs to take steps,” said Ibobi Singh.
“If something goes wrong and if someone dies, they (Centre and BJP) will blame us and say that law and order has broken down in the state. They would take advantage of that situation,” the three-time chief minister lashed out.
(With inputs from PTI)