New Delhi: Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Sunday said the people of his state and he himself wanted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act to be lifted but added that it should be done with the consent of the Centre.
Underlining that national security is a top priority, Singh said, ”We are a border state and share an international border with Myanmar. I have to see the national interest as well.” Ahead of the assembly election in the state, there has been a growing chorus for the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act or AFSPA.
”The people of Manipur, including me, want that AFSPA should be lifted, but after a mutual understanding with the central government as national security is the first priority for us,” Singh told PTI in an interview.
”It is not possible to do so without assessing the ground situation,” he added.
Talking about the law and order situation in the state, Singh said in the last five years, ”no major unwanted incidents have been reported and insurgency has come down by 90 per cent.” ”Therefore, I believe AFSPA can be lifted gradually with the consent of the central government. We must remember there is no political stability in Myanmar and we share the border with that nation,” he said.
He further said the Manipur government is also trying to have a meaningful dialogue with Manipuri insurgents living in Myanmar.
Talking about the ruling BJP’s prospects in the upcoming assembly polls in Manipur, Singh said, ”Elections will show a massive change. We will double our seats and we are working hard to get two-thirds majority.” On alliance, he said the BJP will not have any pre-poll alliance ”but post-poll alliance can be forged, if required.” ”Peace, development and harmonious coexistence is our main poll planks this time,” Singh said.
The BJP had won 21 seats in the last assembly polls and later formed the government in alliance with the NPP and the NPF. Later its strength in the assembly increased to 30 after some MLAs defected from the Congress and other parties.
The elections in Manipur will be held in two phases on February 27 and March 3.