In what was dubbed by Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh himself as a visit that had excited the whole of Manipur, Nagaland Chief Minister Dr Shurhozelie Liezietsu’s visit to Imphal today has been widely considered as the beginning of a new era for the two neighbouring States as well as the different communities in the region.
Accompanied by former Chief Minister and Chairman of DAN & Advisor (Finance) TR Zeliang, Nagaland Minister in charge of NPF Manipur State Unit Yitachu and NPF Central Vice President and in charge of NPF MSU Zaku Tsukhru, Dr Shurhozelie landed by Chopper at the historic Kangla Fort where his counterpart and several other Legislators accompanied by thousands of NPF and BJP party functionaries gave a rousing reception to the visiting dignitaries and were led to the Chief Minister’s Residential Office adjacent to the Fort.
People carrying party flags of the BJP and life-size posters of the two Chief Ministers lined up the street leading out of the Fort and was a touching sight to see after all these decades of the two neighbours maintaining conspicuous distance from each other.
The bonhomie was all-pervading and the body language of the leaders said it all: A small but significant beginning has been made to usher in a new era of peace and goodwill.
“We are all aware that there were several crises in our two States, but with the change of guards here at Manipur, people have begun to see a ray of hope and a new dawn of peace is being heralded in between the two States and the different communities in the region,” Dr Shurhozelie said to the media which he jointly addressed with his counterpart Mr Singh.
He lamented that in the past certain leaders had manipulated and made use of the circumstances for their “own selfish ends” but that with the new dispensation taking over the reins of the State “a new era has dawned and we should all take it as our personal victory.”
“My party’s four MLAs are part of the alliance here and they will continue to remain in the alliance till the last,” Nagaland Chief Minister, who is also the President of the NPF, declared.
He went on to say that people of the region are of different ethnic groups and these groups should “learn to live together in peace and harmony as they have done for ages since we shall continue to be neighbour for ages to come.”
Stating that the Meitei community are the most advanced in the region, he called on the Meitei people to “play the role of the big brother to other communities in the region” and that the many learned scholars and intelligentsia from the Meitei Community “should come forward and create a conducive environment for return of peace and harmony in the State and region.”
In the opinion and view of many people, he said, with the taking over by the new dispensation, there have been peace in the minds of the people of various communities. He went on to urge the people to ensure that it becomes the responsibility of each and everyone that this peace of mind is never disturbed again.
Stating that the media portray the image of the State to the outside world, he urged media persons to present the state in the right perspectives to the world so that a good impression is created.
“Let us interact more often and ensure that our relationship is built on solid foundation. We must realise that development can come only if we have peace, and to have peace we need to have goodwill among all sections of the society. Please convey our feelings that we are your good brother,” he urged the media persons.
Later in the day, addressing party functionaries in an informal gathering, DAN Chairman and former Chief Minister TR Zeliang said that for the first time in decades, Manipur is fortunate to a have a Chief Minister who is eager to reach out to the hills people and urged party men and women to extend full cooperation to the good gesture so as to ensure all-round development of the hills districts.
“It must be through divine intervention that we have friendly Governments and Chief Ministers in our immediate neighbors Assam and Manipur this time and so we must take full advantage of the situation,” Zeliang said and went on to mention about the strategic location of the three states with regards to the Government of India’s Act East Policy urging the people of the region to “cooperate and reap the benefits of trade and commerce with the South East Asian nations in the years to come.”
Parliamentary Secretary Manipur Awangbow Newmai, who is also the President of the NPF Manipur State Unit, said that in the past, Nagas and hills people were considered as “the worst enemies of the Valley people of the State, but with our support, the Government has been formed and we will prove that we can be and we shall be the best of friends of the Valley people.”