Imphal, Aug 29: The one-day session of the Manipur Assembly was adjourned sine die within an hour of commencement after Congress MLAs created a ruckus demanding that the session be extended to five days. Opposition MLAs led by former chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh said one day was not enough to discuss the prevailing situation in the ethnic strife-torn state. All the 10 Kuki MLAs, including seven from the BJP, were absent from the House.
The proceedings began at 11 am with two-minute silence for those killed in the ethnic violence between Meiteis and Kukis that began on May 3. In his address, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said, “With great sorrow, we condole the deaths of those killed in the violence. In times like these, words seem inefficient for those who have lost their loved ones in the strife.”
The House resolved that all differences should be addressed through dialogue and peaceful means for communal harmony in the state.
“This House unanimously resolves to work for the oneness and harmony of all the people of Manipur, irrespective of caste, community, region, religion or language. The House also resolves that as peace is the priority of the State, this House will strive to resolve all the differences among the people, till complete peace returns to the entire State, through dialogue and constitutional means,” the resolution said.
The House also lauded the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3 on Moon and congratulated scientist N Raghu Singh, who is from Manipur and was in ISRO team that led the mission.
Soon after, Congress MLAs started shouting “stop mockery, let’s save democracy” from their seats and demanded that a five-day session be held for discussing the situation in the state.
Speaker Th Satyabrata Singh urged the opposition MLAs to sit down but they continued with the ruckus, following which he adjourned the House for 30 minutes.
As the House reassembled, the Congress MLAs continued with their protest, following which the Speaker, while stating that it was not possible to continue with the session amid the ruckus, adjourned the proceedings sine die.
Briefing reporters later in the day, Manipur PWD Minister Govindas Konthoujam criticised the opposition Congress for their “unconstitutional and unruly behaviour” while the Congress termed it a “dark day in the parliamentary democracy of India.”
Konthoujam said the opposition created a ruckus when the Speaker entered the House and continued to disturb even when obituary references were made.
“The opportunity to discuss important matters of the state for the whole day was not allowed by the Opposition members,” the minister said.
“People of the state should know that Congress created a lot of disturbances in the House,” Konthoujam added.
Education and Law Minister Th Basanta said, “Even before Speaker Thokchom Satyabrata Singh could say something, Congress members started shouting and disturbed the functioning of the House.”
“The speaker had no choice but to adjourn the House for about half-an-hour so that they (opposition) could rethink and come back to discuss the current situation of the state in a civilised and proper manner. However, when the House resumed, the opposition leaders continued their protests and did not allow the House to function,” Basanta said.
Meanwhile, Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee in a separate press conference said the session was a “dark day in the parliamentary democracy of India.”
Former chief minister and Congress leader O Ibobi Singh said, “The assembly session was convened only to avoid a constitutional crisis and not for public interest. The state government is doing whatever it wants. The members are being deprived to raise questions.”
“We do not want to shout in the House, but we had no choice against the dictatorial attitude of the government,” Ibobi said, adding, “There is no rule of law but dictatorship, that’s why we condemn it.”
“We had urged for a five-day session but it was not allowed. We had requested for a discussion on the current situation of the state in public interest but that was not allowed. After obituary references, the session was adjourned. This is unfortunate,” Ibobi said.
The state government had last month recommended a session by August 21, but later revised it to August 28 on not getting a green light from the Raj Bhavan. Last week, the chief minister’s office announced that the assembly will reconvene from August 29.
The previous assembly session was held in March and according to the norms, a session must be held every six months.
The Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU) and the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) had recently denounced the convening of the session saying the present situation is not conducive for Kuki-Zo MLAs to attend it.
In a joint statement on Sunday, both the organisations said considering the complete breakdown of law and order and the failure of the state government in protecting the lives of the common people and officials, convening the session “is devoid of logic and rationality.”
More than 160 people lost their lives and several hundreds were injured since ethnic clashes broke out in Manipur on May 3. (PTI)