As electioneering for by-polls gains momentum in the valley, the flag hoisting ceremony of Md. Azizul Haque Khan, INC candidate of 30-Lilong Assembly Constituency was held at his residence of Lilong Lairabakhong on Sunday. Subsequently, the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) issued a press release, in which Former Union Minister and AICC in-charge of Manipur, Bhakta Charan Das reminded the people of Manipur to acknowledge the value of their vote and think carefully before they cast votes.
“Should we bow our head and just give our vote blindly or should we vote for a better change?” questioned Das. He contended that the Congress party had created a Ministry, opened up a commission and made a special budget for the minority communities, but the Modi government had cut off everything. The benefits that used to be received by the minorities were no longer available, he added. “The dream you had during the time of Dr Manmohan for the benefit of your children is no longer provided by the present government,” said Das.
“Our country is strong because of the hard work of our manual laborers. But these laborers are being treated like slaves by BJP government. I appeal everyone to carefully think who you should vote for. Our Congress party was, is and will always stay on your side no matter who you give your vote to. To stand with the weak communities and bring respect and value to their lives is always our motto,” he stated.
He further said, “I request everyone to please give your valuable to us and let us make the value of your vote priceless. Let us teach others how expensive your vote is and should not be treated as worthless.”
Moirangthem Okendro, President MPCC, spoke on how religion based disputes had risen in our country every time when the present BJP government came to power at the Centre. He said, “Congress never sees religion and so if we let this kind of party that based itself on one religion come to power again, India as well as Manipur will be torn to pieces. A simple example is of a Muslim brother in some other state, being killed only for the reason that he was taking a cow with him. Variations of this story have been heard by all of us from newspapers and other media. It is something very horrible to be seen or heard.”
Okendro believes that Congress will come to power again in Lilong and in Manipur. “When it does, I promise to everyone present here, as President of MPCC that we will remove the disdain shown to minorities by the present government,” he stated.
Okendro appealed to the people of Lilong to once again show their support to Congress as they had for so long. He said, “In 2017 also, you made Congress win in Lilong Kendra but that MLA left without completing his term. I think there will be no harm in giving the remaining 1 year and 2 months to my brother Azizul Haque. I believe the people of Lilong will help him to realize his dream of serving Lilong.”
Kangujam Ranjit Singh MLA reminded about the independent candidate Md. Nasir, who had resigned as Congress MLA and had been rejected by BJP. He said, “Md. Nasir went to Delhi with other 5 former Congress MLAs to join BJP and even then he was rejected by the BJP because of being a minority. Returning to Imphal and having nowhere to go, he contested the bye-election as an independent candidate with auto rickshaw symbol.”
He stated, “Lilong is a prestigious constituency having minority population, but it produced so many well-known figures including the former Chief Minister Md. Alimuddin who set up the Manipur University. It was during the Congress regime that the university was upgraded to Central University in 2005.”
He further stated, “The very university that has become a very important and indispensible part of shaping the lives of our youth and the future of Manipur was recently tainted by one Vice Chancellor AP Pandey, who had turned it into BJP training ground. When the students raised their voice against him, Chief Minister Biren went to meet with Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar advised the former not to remove AP Pandey as VC. Instead of fighting to remove the then VC, he used the security forces of Manipur and raided the sacred grounds of the university that was home to our children and their teachers. Even in the war between countries; hospitals and schools are not attacked or bombarded but this government used tear gas and bombs during the wee hours and terrorized our children and professors. The bloodshed of students and teachers, putting handcuffs on them and putting them behind bars happened in a university. Is that the achievement of BJP government? I want to ask this to our CM.”
Coming to the INC candidate Md Azizul Haque, he said, “He is someone very capable of leading Lilong Kendra. A very well-educated, humble and a retired Chief Engineer of Manipur; someone who knows the ins and outs of how Manipur government works. This is the person that you should cast your valuable vote for”.
MLA Keisham Meghachandra also stated the Congress since then and now had shown recognition and concern for the Meitei-Pangal minority community by conducting extensive surveys on issues regarding education, financial problem, skill development, and reservation policies. Md Nasir paying more focus on allying with the BJPs when there are even more serious issues to be dealt with regarding Covid-19 because of which people are dying almost every day is something I find hard to fathom.”
“On March 2017, when the BJP ministers were sworn in to govern the state, they promised to build the Imphal-Jiri highway road such that even planes can land on it. But, today we got news that when the Irang Bridge had collapsed, a Tata truck fell, one person went missing and the other is rescued. Is this the promise the BJP led government had fulfilled over the past 3 years?” he asked.
INC Candidate Azizul Haque Khan warmly welcomed the crowd and said, “I am quite aged and I will tell you why I have stepped forward to this. I have had a desire to bring forth some developmental changes in my Lilong Kendra. I approached the government yet they ignored my interests and since then, I have decided, if I ever get elected, I will try to fulfill it in the best way.”
M. Prithiviraj Ex-MLA, Amin Shah Ex-MLA also spoke in the function.