The Trinamool Congress on Monday said a five-member party delegation will visit the ethnic strife-torn Manipur on July 14 to reach out to the affected people of the northeastern state. More than 120 people have lost their lives and several have been injured since ethnic violence broke out in the state on May 3, when a ‘Tribal Solidarity March’ was organised in the hill districts to protest against the Meitei community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. The TMC delegation will comprise Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien, Rajya Sabha MPs Dola Sen and Sushmita Dev and Lok Sabha MPs Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Kalyan Banerjee.
“A four-member fact-finding delegation of MPs from @AITCofficial will visit Manipur on July 14… (It) will reach out to those affected and provide some healing comfort for a ‘DOUBLE ENGINE’ state that the @BJP4India government has ignored over the last 3 months,” the TMC tweeted. The party later said, “Manipur visit by @Aitcofficial delegation. 5 member delegation. includes @sushmitadevAITC.”
The Trinamool Congress has been alleging that the “divisive” policies of the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Manipur have led to ethnic strife. Meiteis account for about 53 per cent of Manipur’s population and live mostly in the Imphal Valley, while tribals, who include Nagas and Kukis, constitute 40 per cent and reside mostly in the hill districts.
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee had recently accused the BJP of using “divisive” politics in Manipur and blamed it for a “failure” on the part of the central government to restore peace in the northeastern state. Banerjee had also claimed that she wrote to the Centre to allow her to visit Manipur but didn’t receive a reply. Reacting to the Trinamool Congress’ decision to send a delegation to Manipur, the Bengal BJP unit said the TMC should first send fact-finding teams to districts where violence claimed 15 lives during the panchayat polls on July 8.
“So many people have died in the entire panchayat poll process since June 8, when the elections were announced. They should first send fact-finding teams to such areas and speak to the family members of victims. This is an attempt to divert attention from the violence in Bengal,” BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said.
Violence had rocked West Bengal’s rural polls, leaving 15 people dead while ballot boxes were vandalised, ballot papers torched, and bombs thrown at rivals in several places. Of those who died on the polling day, 11 were affiliated with the TMC. The total death toll in the state, since the rural poll process began on June 8 when the dates were announced, has crossed 30.