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Parliament nod for Central rule in Manipur

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JULY 30. Parliament today approved the imposition of President's rule in Manipur. A statutory resolution seeking approval of the Presidential proclamation was adopted by voice vote by the Lok Sabha this evening.

The Lower House's approval of the resolution, adopted on Friday by the Rajya Sabha, where the Opposition has numerical superiority, was deemed to be a formality, but not before the Union Home Minister Mr. L. K. Advani, did some explaining.

Replying to the discussion, Mr. Advani defended the Government's approach on tackling the situation in Manipur, saying there was no question of another Ministry assuming power in Imphal. Central rule would continue for some time to bring back normality in the State so that the legislators could begin work in their constituencies.

Mr. Advani said the Centre did not shy away from taking a u-turn on the Naga ceasefire agreement as it felt duty- bound to honour the sentiments of the people of Manipur, Assam and other northeastern States.

Giving reasons for the delay in announcing the deletion of the three words - ``without territorial limits'' - from the June 14 agreement with the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (I-M), he said the Government wanted to consult the outfit first. He discounted reports in a section of the media that the NSCN (I-M) had not agreed to the deletion of the three words.

Stating that the people of Manipur were not against the ceasefire and the peace process, he pointed out that the Government's commitment to protecting the State's territorial integrity was even stated in the National Democratic Alliance manifesto.

The Government did not agree to the ceasefire being extended to all Naga-inhabited areas in the region fearing that it could have been used for raising the demand of a ``Greater Nagaland''. The Chief Ministers of the States concerned were consulted on the extension of the Naga ceasefire agreement last year as well as in March this year, he said.

Agreeing with the suggestion that the Naga peace talks be held in the country, Mr. Advani said the Government had inherited the arrangement from the United Front regime. ``We want Mr. Thiungaleng Muivah to come to the country and hold talks. We are even ready to grant him immunity for that. We hope Mr. Muivah will agree and the peace process will move ahead.''

`Advani failed in his duty'

Earlier, opening the debate, Mr. Santosh Mohan Dev of the Congress took Mr. Advani to task for failing to manage the political contradictions within the NDA and accused him of failing in his duty as the NDA allies created instability.

In a hard-hitting speech, Mr. Dev said ``Manipur was a fit case'' for invocation of Article 356, but wanted to know why the Minister failed to do his ``duty'' six months earlier (when the Samata Party had managed to put together a majority through defections).

Alleging that perhaps for the first time the Governor of a State had to flee from Raj Bhavan, that too when New Delhi had a Home Minister who was known as `Sardar Patel', the Congress leader reminded the House that the Centre was obliged to send out a message that President's rule would mean equal protection for all sections of society in the northeast.

Introducing the motion, Mr. Advani assured the Lok Sabha - as he had done in the Rajya Sabha last week - that the Manipur Assembly would be dissolved and that the elections would be held within a reasonable time.

In view of the Supreme Court verdict in the Bommai case, it was not possible to dissolve the Assembly right away, and the dissolution had to await the formal ratification of the imposition of President's rule.

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