Activate autonomous district councils or abolish them

By Haokholala Thangjom

The most short-lived late Longjam Thambou Ministry from the 13th October to the 25th October 1967 for thirteen days (please note the date of formation unlucky number 13) was followed by the Congress Ministry led by Late Shri Mairembam Koireng Singh on the 19th February 1968. After eight months it was dissolved on the 16th October 1969 and the President’s Rule was imposed. The period of political vacuum became ‘deus ex-machina’ for the people of Manipur. The stolid or impassive political parties in our State chose to put their heads together to constitute an All-Party Statehood Demand Coordination Committee at the fag-end of the year 1969 having office in the shop building of Late Shri G. Gambhir Singh. Apparently, it was prodded by the political vacuum and the conferment of Statehood to the neighbouring Nagaland in the year 1963.

The follow-up action was to send the All-Party delegates to meet the Prime Minister, Late Indira Gandhi and other Central leaders. After several parleys with the Central leaders, they insisted on the stand of the tribal people. As a consequence thereof, a delegate of Tribal Leaders Council led by me met Late Shrimati Indira Gandhi and submitted a memorandum to her on the 7th May 1970. For the second time, the delegate met the late Prime Minister and submitted an Aide Memoire on the 11th November 1971 urging of autonomy for the tribal people as provided in Article 244(2) of the Constitution or to evolve a pattern of autonomy which should be ‘Sui Generis’ within the framework of the Constitution.

It may be recalled pertinently that Late Shrimati Gandhi insisted to ascertain the stand of the tribal people in regard to the official language of the State and the Autonomous district councils in the tribal areas (please note – Not the Hill areas). We firmly assured her that language problem would not arise and district autonomy would be a ‘cementing force’ for the integrity of Manipur.

During the two years of ordeal spitting of venomous criticism or bad-mouthing us as ‘the running dog of Meiteis’ by the pseudo-messiahs of the tribal people were rampant. But the unified people of Manipur-Plus performed hat-trick. That is, full-fledged State was proclaimed by late Indiraji on the thirtieth September 1971 in Parliament and number of seats in the State Assembly was increased to sixty from thirty as provided in Article 170 and the status as of Autonomous district in the tribal areas was promulgated. At the initial stage, delimitation committees were constituted by the State Government for delimiting constituencies of the District councils.

It is unfortunate that all six District Councils had been superseded as provided in Clause 47 of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971. They are:-

1. Chandel – on 17.10.1988
2. Senapati – on 24.11.1993.
3. Ukhrul, 4. Churachandpur.
5. Tamenglong on 18.3.1989
6. Sadar Hills

It is well and good that the State Government is ready to hold elections to the six District Councils after 19 years of supersession. At present we have the original act of 1971 and another Act of July 2000. Moreover, due to demographic changes it is necessary delimitation of constituencies. It will be unavoidable to constitute Delimitation Committee/Commission. Interestingly, we remember Rip Van Winkle’s slumber for twenty years. The call of the hour is ‘activate Autonomous District Councils or Abolish’ as the relevant autonomy is not to be treated as Teddy Bear or as a Toy.

The Sangai Express

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About Zou Sangnaupang Pawlpi Delhi

Zou Students' Association Delhi Branch
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