Leaders of the Congress and other opposition parties on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should pay heed to the “advice” of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and visit Manipur which has seen violence for over a year now, a day after Bhagwat said the situation in the strife-torn state must be considered a priority.

While Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said Bhagwat can perhaps prevail upon the “former RSS office-bearer” to go to the northeastern state, independent MP Kapil Sibal said it is “not in the DNA” of the PM to listen to the advice of the Opposition but he should pay attention to the words of the RSS chief.

RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said Bhagwat has aired his concerns a bit too late and claimed that the PM has maintained “silence” on every crisis including Manipur.

Asked about RSS chief’s concerns about Manipur, the RJD leader said, “He has been too late in speaking out.” “The PM, on his part, has merely kept silent on every crisis, be it violence in that state, or protests by farmers and female wrestlers in Delhi,” he said.

Manipur plunged into violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities in May last year. Since then some 200 people have been killed, while thousands have been displaced following large-scale arson that has gutted homes and government buildings. Fresh violence has been reported from Jiribam over the past few days.

Festive offer

Taking a swipe at the PM, Ramesh in a post on X said, “If not the ‘one-third’ Prime Minister’s conscience or the repeated demands of the people of Manipur, perhaps Mr. Bhagwat can prevail upon the former RSS office-bearer to go to Manipur.”

Former Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel said, “Mohan Bhagwat is saying so based on his experience. He must have said about the arrogance that is visible. Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks on Manipur after a year show that the differences between BJP and RSS, which were highlighted by JP Nadda, are evident now.”

Bhagwat on Monday expressed concern over peace eluding Manipur even after one year and said the situation in the strife-torn northeastern state must be considered with priority.

Addressing a gathering of RSS trainees in Nagpur, Bhagwat said conflict in various places and in society is not good.

Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal cautioned the new NDA government against repeating what had happened in the last 10 years of the BJP-led government. “I have been saying this for months, with statements an environment of ‘us versus them’ is being created. We need to take the country forward. I welcome the statement of Mohan Bhagwat,” he said.

Sibal said, “I have been repeating this for many months. When I was in the Rajya Sabha, in 1998-2004, there was a Vajpayee government. I heard his speeches many times, he used to call the Opposition ‘Pratipaksh’, he used to say you are not our virodhi. PM Modi made the Opposition ‘Virodhi’.”

“We raised concern about Manipur, Bhagwat ji has also said it now. You don’t listen to us because you are not used to listening to us but listen to him. It is not in your DNA to listen to us. Manipur should be given priority… I had asked for the removal of CM N Biren Singh, but you could not remove the former wrestling body chief, what will you do about the CM,” Sibal said.

The former Union minister called for the opposition’s voice to be heard, saying that only then will the country move forward.

Asked about Bhagwat’s remarks, NCP (Sharad Pawar) leader Supriya Sule said, “We have been questioning the government over the Manipur issue for months. A lot of discussions took place in the Parliament over the Manipur situation. Manipur is an integral part of the country. The people, women, children there are Indians.” “In Manipur, the convoy of the chief minister was also attacked. It shows that somewhere something is going wrong. A word is not spoken about Manipur, though we sought a discussion on the issue.”
“Leaders from the INDIA bloc traveled to the state, but we were stopped there. Manipur is an integral part of India. Why is it being meted out such treatment?” she said.

Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi said he does not expect the PM to pay attention to Bhagwat’s words but people have chosen the INDIA bloc to speak on their behalf.

“I do not expect Prime Minister Modi to pay any attention to the words of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Prime Minister Modi will avoid Manipur, misuse law enforcement agencies and try to bend the Indian Constitution.” “Thankfully, the people have chosen the INDIA alliance to speak up on its behalf and defend the Indian Parliament and the Constitution,” Gogoi wrote on X.

Maharashtra Cabinet minister and BJP leader Chandrakant Patil described Bhagwat as a “fatherly figure” and said he has a right to speak if something undesirable is happening.

RJD leader Yadav, meanwhile, accused the BJP of giving a raw deal to Bihar in the portfolio allocation despite the state having a “decisive role” in the new central government.