Call of ATSUM to hold ADC polls
Hold elections on time
Let it be very clear. The All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur (ATSUM) has not called off the proposed 48 hours bandh, but merely deferred it by ten days. Unstated but clear in the decision of the student body to defer the proposed bandh by 10 days is the stand, ‘The Government has been given a window period of 10 days time to set things right,’ and setting things right would obviously be to announce or work towards holding elections to the six Autonomous District Councils, for which election is due. This is not the time to bite one’s thumb or twiddle one’s finger but get down to the business of setting the ball rolling for the elections to the ADCs. This is the stand of the student body and there is merit in its stand, though the bandh call may not exactly fit into the bill of correctly piling the pressure on the Government to get things done. Surely as a student body, representing the hills of Manipur, ATSUM should look for more constructive ways to bring the Government to its senses. As things stand, ATSUM has acknowledged the ‘State Government’s sincere commitment and steps taken for early conduct of ADC elections,’ and the ten days relaxation period given by the student body should not be frittered away. Election to the ADC was due in May this year, but understandably the same was deferred due to the global pandemic and November was set as the month for the elections to be held. However for reasons which are as flimsy as harvest season, postponement of the scheduled elections was sought again. The Chairmen of the six ADCs had also issued a statement to this effect some time back. Only those advocating that the elections be held later will know the reason for this call, but ATSUM has a point in that excuses should no longer be trotted out on one pretext or the other. If such reasons can be furnished for the polls to be held later, then how about the by elections to the four Assembly Constituencies on November 7, is one line of argument that has been put forth.
Intrinsic in the call for deferment of the polls is the call for extension of the present ADC whose term began in 2015. Ironic it is that the some of the very set of people, who stand to gain from the institution of the ADC should call for poll deferment. On the other hand, it also stands that the ADC in Manipur has mostly been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Remember when the ADC was revived after a gap of more than 20 years in 2010. The UNC had then boycotted the election on the ground that the 2008 Amendment Bill should be withdrawn and more power should be given to the ADCs. It did not end there for shortly after the said election of 2010 was boycotted in the Naga dominated districts, those declared elected had to stay put at a safe house, designated as their quarters at Imphal. The assassination of former ADC Vice Chairman of Ukhrul district Ngalangzar Malue at Finch Corner, on the Imphal-Ukhrul road in 2014, is another dark chapter in the history of the ADC. No reasons have been spelt out for the assassination of the ADC leader, but it did cast a long shadow on the conduct of the ADC elections held earlier. All instances to show that nothing seems to be working right for the ADCs and the fact that this time it should come from the failure to hold the elections as scheduled is what is hard to digest. The All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur has taken a stand and given the State Government 10 days time, counting from October 25 and it remains to be seen how this is responded to in the coming few days.