Imphal, Jun 15 : Veteran Congress leader Rishang Keishing today said the current trouble in Manipur was a passing phase and everything would be alright one day, while urging the government not to delay things and calling for discipline among party members.
After the Parliament felicitated four surviving first MPs of the country, including 93-year-old Keishing, Manipur PCC today felicitated the Rajya Sabha member with an impressive function at the party head office here.
“The problems we face today are temporary and one day the different communities will work and live together peacefully,” Keishing said, urging Congress leaders and the government to “serve the people”.
Keishing, who hails from Kamjong sub-division of Ukhrul district, was elected to Lok Sabha in the first Indian elections held in 1952, was a chief minister for four terms and is currently a member of the Rajya Sabha, the term of which will end in 2014.
After all Congress members deserted the party and joined other parties before the June 18, 2001, uprising, Keishing sat as the lone Opposition member in the Assembly.
He calmly abjured the chief ministership in the early nineties when Rajiv Gandhi sent the then home minister Buta Singh to replace him with former Union sports minister R.K. Jaichandra Singh. Keishing commanded majority at that time.
Recalling the event, Keishing today said he stepped down on the advice of Rajiv Gandhi because he was a disciplined Congressman.
Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and home minister Gaikhangam hailed Keishing as the role model and father figure of the Congress in Manipur. “It is because of Keishing’s advice and guidance that the party could today rule the state for the third consecutive term,” Ibobi Singh said.
Well-known Manipuri singer Shamurailatpam Naba Sharma, popularly known as Naba Volcano, performed Oja (teacher) Rishang in honour of the leader. Today’s felicitation signalled retirement of Keishing after his Rajya Sabha term ended.
The nonagenarian has already groomed his son, Victor Keishing, to step into his shoes after his retirement from active politics. Victor was elected from Phungyar constituency in this year’s Assembly elections on a Congress ticket.
Keishing, who joined the Congress during the height of Indo-China war in 1964 and remained a local party leader till date, said he would die a local Congressman.