IMPHAL, Jun 26: Giving his side of the story to the news item which appeared in the June 15 issue under the heading “UNC socially boycotts Mani Charenamei”, the former MP has come out with a point by point response.
A source had then informed The Sangai Express that the UNC had taken the decision as the former MP was allegedly working against the demand for an Alternative Arrangement for the Nagas of Manipur.
The former MP’s response is given here ad verbatim.
I am compelled to issue this clarification in response to the UNC’s resolution no. 5 of 28th May 2014 as the resolution contains misleading informations and malicious aforethoughts to ruin my political career by levelling unfounded and baseless accusations against me for the defeat of the NPF candidate in the 16th Lok Sabha election, 2014.
Before I formally and publicly declared my stand to contest the 16th Lok Sabha election as an Independent candidate on 5th October 2013, I had already started my consultation as early as from May 2013. I had consulted some of the prominent leaders who are engaged in Peace Talks for peaceful conduct of election, with my well wishers, with elders and leaders of various tribal communities, with honourable MLAs cutting across party lines and leaders of different political parties for their valued suggestions and advice. In fact, most of the leaders I consulted supported my vision and decision to fight as an Independent candidate as it is the only platform where all parties and communities can unite for the common cause and burning issues the people of the state are facing today.
The main reason of declaring my stand to contest the 16th Lok Sabha Election as an Independent candidate well in advance was done in order to give ample time to the electorate to make their conscientious decisions and also to avoid allegations that I contested as Independent candidate because I was denied otherparty tickets.
Even after taking decision to contest in the 16th Lok Sabha election I continued to have consultation with important organisations and many tribal chiefs and leaders. As far as I could remember I consulted with the Manipur state unit NPF President as many as five times, with NPF leaders Manipur In charge(Central)two times, with the NPF President on 13th Jan. 2014, with the Search Committee members several times and UNC executives two times and with various Tribal Presidents two to three times at their respective places. During the consultations with all the concerned leaders and organisations I had made my ideas very clear to everyone that it is highly risky to contest election depending on the votes of a single community and that it will be better if NPF chose to stay away from contesting and rather support an Independent candidate as it would be a better option for all the Tribal voters to come together keeping in view the known chemistry and complex electoral dynamics driven by conflicting demands among the people of Outer Manipur. I am constrained to point out these facts because most of our people opined that it will not be correct and proper to field NPF candidate in Manipur.
I believe, there is hardly any politician among the Naga community except me who cared to consult all the concerned leaders across party lines and irrespective of tribes to find a deeper understanding on the issues the tribal people of the state are facing. However, instead of appreciating my sincere efforts, NPF and its workers were actively involved in spreading false propaganda that I have been sponsored by the INC party, that I have already withdrawn from contesting, that I am anti Naga,etc. etc., all but to ruin my political career. I had, in fact, warned the UNC and other concerned Naga leaders that the present Naga society is overwhelmed with trust deficit, misunderstanding and disunity therefore UNC should not take any decision which could further enhance the division of the society by showing favour to a single party. The reason why leaders of other political parties could not agree to support the PDA candidature in 2009 election is obvious and simple and needs no explanation.
To everybody’s surprise UNC came out with a decision to support NPF candidate only on 19th March 2014 without carrying out proper assessment about the desire and wish of the Naga public. Had UNC stood for free and fair election the outcome of the election would have been very different.
I also wanted to make it very clear to you and your associates that I was never informed formally or officially by any group or person not to contest the 16th Lok Sabha election after I had announced my intention to contest as an Independent candidate.
Now, coming to the wild accusation of UNC that my contest in the 16 Lok Sabha election had caused widespread confusion among the people and terming as anti Naga activities are completely misleading and false. Further, the UNC alleged that my statement had put in question the legitimacy of the AA demand and had given negative reflection to the world. In this regard, I had already made necessary press clarification on the misquoted news items. As a person who took active part in the tripartite talk on Alternative Arrangement I could never question the legality of the Naga peoples’ demand for Alternative Arrangement. As a matter of fact, the legality of the AA demand was not raised during the press interview. As a matter of fact, in my interview I had boldly expressed that it was heartening to know that the talk AA was elevated to the political level. And I also want to clarify that the reason for leaving the negotiating team was not a betrayal to the AA movement but to give more leverage to the AA movement by roping in the involvement of the Naga Parliamentary Forum and I even informed the UNC President about my decision on leaving the AA team. Moreover if the demand for AA is illegitimate how could I include demand for Full Autonomy for the tribal areas of Manipur in my Election manifesto. More than that, I even made the ongoing Peace Talk as no. 1 priority of my manifesto.
The allegation that I had dissipated the Naga Parliamentarian Forum into an oblivion is completely false and misleading. The formation of Naga Parliamentarian Forum, Manipur was initiated by the Members of Naga Parliamentarians themselves. It is true, the first meeting was presided by the UNC President, Mr. Samson Remmei but, the guiding Principles and Rules were independently framed and approved by the members themselves. The guiding principles says that the Naga Parliamentarian Forum, Manipur (NPFM) will not be subservient to any organisation. The NPFM had chosen not to be under the control of any organisation because the NPFM members may be called upon to play a much bigger role for the Naga community particularly in reaching out to both Government authorities and civil societies for building peace and understanding among various communities.
In fact, the NPFM has a plan to call on all the Chief Ministers of the North Eastern states in the near future and we have never done any activities to lower the dignity or sell out the rights of the Nagas. In fact, it is deeply committed to the Naga cause and will continue to work for the welfare of the Naga people.
UNC also charged that as I was blessed in the past two elections in 2004 and 2009 with Naga support I should abide by the declaration issued by the UNC. But, what is most surprising was, I was never given an opportunity to share my views and opinions in any of the UNC meetings in spite of knowing that I have been running from pillar to post to bring an understanding among concerned organisations and leaders. Moreover, UNC never officially informed me about any decisions taken on the election related matters. As a matter of fact, I was only called to meet the NPF leaders only after filing nomination papers which I could not make it due to hectic election campaign schedules. And I also wanted to clarify that at any point of time I was not told that I will be no more qualified to be the consensus candidate as I have been blessed two times. In fact, I was hopeful that if at all the UNC wants to find a consensus candidate then it will decide on the Independent candidate in order to get the support of different parties and communities.
The UNC extended full support when I contested as an Independent candidate in 2004. However, in 2009 when I contested from PDA party which is a regional party UNC was not involved actively saying that it cannot associate with any political party as per its constitution. However, the UNC came all out in support of the NPF party in 2014 which is also a regional party overriding its former stand.
The social boycott call announced only against me while sparing other prominent Naga candidates by the UNC is a bias decision and is aimed at tarnishing my image. It is true that I was the consensus Naga candidate in 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections. In 2004 election I got around 228000 votes ( about 56% of the Naga votes) and I was elected by a margin of 84,000 votes in 2004. Everybody knew that my winning in 2004 was facilitated by the absence of INC candidate in the fray and the boycott call given by Thoubal voters. In 2009 I got 223000 votes ( about 51% of the Naga votes )and I was defeated by a margin of 1,19,000 votes. It is a well known fact that a large chunk of Naga votes were taken away by the BJP candidate who was a Naga in 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections and more than 60,000 Naga votes went to the INC candidate in 2009, in spite of having a consensus Naga candidate. In fact, in 2009 my fervent request to contest as an Independent candidate went unheeded. As far I could remember there were not less than two or three Naga candidates who contested against the Naga consensus both in 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections but no social boycott was declared against any of the Naga candidates who contested against the Naga consensus candidate. I am therefore compelled to ask why UNC has failed to apply the same yardstick against all the candidates who contested against the Naga consensus candidate in 2004 and 2009 elections.
I also wish to know whether I am a lesser Naga than the NPF candidate and whatever issues I had raised in the Indian parliament has no relevance to the Naga issue and will my election to the 16th Lok Sabha be a great loss to the Naga Movement ? On what ground those leaders who went all out against the consensus Naga candidate in 2004 and 2009 were exempted from social boycott and how they have been given top post in the UNC office ? Further, what I wanted to ask the UNC is, whether my Independent candidature with an aim to unite all the underprivileged tribal communities is a crime that befits social boycott and imposing heavy fines on my supporters for exercising their democratic rights ?
I would also wish to point out that I was the one who secured the least Naga votes among the Naga candidates. I secured only about 20, 000 Naga votes, BJP and INC secured more Naga votes than me. Everybody know that there was open vote sharing between INC and NPF in some polling stations. Poor performance of NPF in Nungba, Tamenglong and Tamei constituencies compared to other Naga districts is not my doing. The NPF and its volunteers also levelled baseless and unfounded allegations against me that I have been paid a lot of money to contest against the NPF candidate by the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Manipur.
It will be good on the part of every Naga to know that the defeat of NPF is not the defeat of the Naga Movement. The defeat of NPF is attributed to the wrong policy decision taken by UNC and NPF leadership and not due to the contest of other Naga candidates.
This time NPF could muster more than 2,70,000 Naga votes and it was defeated, next time they may be able to muster all the Naga votes but they should remember that its opponent will come out even stronger than before to defeat them as long as they refuse to understand the dynamics of a highly polarised tribal politics prevalent in the state of Manipur. In fact, if I had contested from NPF party I would have faced the same fate. The Sangai Express