‘All parliamentarians’ must do their job, ET said, ‘not just one’.
Last week, we reported on how editorials in top English newspapers united in condemning the ongoing violence in Manipur, especially a recent viral video of two Kuki women. From The Hindu to Indian Express to The Times of India, they were particularly critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-month silence on the ethnic conflict, broken only last week.
The monsoon session of Parliament began on July 20, and the opposition has pressed for a discussion on the Manipur issue. Home Minister Amit Shah claimed he was “ready for a discussion” but opposition MPs have demanded that Modi give a statement. Parliamentary proceedings were marked by protests and slogans.
One newspaper leapt to Modi’s rescue – Economic Times in a July 24 editorial headlined “All MPs, not just one, need to talk Manipur”. It accused the opposition of wanting “one man alone, the prime minister, to speak on the violence in Manipur” even though the central government has “agreed” to a discussion.
“The very notion of collective responsibility of government seems to elude the Opposition,” ET mourned. “What is their agenda? To target the prime minister? Or to find a way to douse the Manipur fire?”
It also said the “fundamental difference” between parliamentary proceedings and university debates is to “come up with real-world solutions” and “not engage merely in qawwali contests”.
And therefore, “fiddling while Manipur burns is dishonourable at a time when the country, the unhappy state included, needs all parliamentarians, not just one, to do their job”.
If you feel you’ve heard a version of this defence before, it’s because it’s pretty much what certain primetime news anchors say when they’re absolving the prime minister and his party of any responsibility. We should point out it took the PM over 75 days to say anything on Manipur, unlike many opposition MPs.
And our news anchors have done their best after Modi was forced to speak – they compared the violence in Manipur to the situation in Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. They also appealed to viewers not to ‘politicise’ the issue. Watch this episode of Newsance for everything that went down.