Head count on contentious census : Return of the ghost of 2001

Ghost of 2001. Nineteen years down the line and the spirit has again come back to haunt the consciousness of quite a large number of people for the census of 2001 has sharply polarised two line of thoughts, one that delimitation should be carried out on the basis of the 2001 head count and the other that no delimitation should be based on alleged faulty figures. The Sangai Express has already had its say on the matter in an earlier commentary, but what seems to have missed the consciousness of quite a large number of people is the ‘mind’ behind the alleged abnormal rise in the number of population in some select sub-divisions in Senapati district. Here going back to 2003 may be of some significance, especially to those who can faintly recollect the turn of things that happened 17 years ago. Equally significant to note too that when the then Okram Ibobi Singh Government ordered a fresh head count back in 19 sub-divisions of the hills and the valley districts back in 2003, on the ground that the provisional census report then showed abnormal growth in population with some registering growth rate as high as 150 percent, the survey teams were greeted by locked houses with no one around. Appeals from the then Horticulture Minister RK Theko and GAD Minister Francis Ngajokpa  went unheeded. The three sub-divisions here were Purul, Paomata and Mao-Maram with Purul recording a growth rate 168.78 percent, Mao-Maram 143.14 percent and Paomata 122.64 percent. In contrast, growth rate at Imphal West was pegged  at 1.5 percent, Tipaimukh recorded 5.75 percent and Singngat sub-vision 6.41 percent. It is on the basis of this abnormally high growth rate that the delimitation process has been proposed, which would inevitably mean an increase in the Assembly seats in the hill areas particularly in Senapati district while the valley area would stand to lose 3 or 4 Assembly seats.
These are the statistics and a brief record of the growth rate, which some have dubbed as being abnormal. And there could be a design behind the abnormal growth rate and whether one agrees with the growth rate or not, there is a high possibility that the tremendously high growth rate could have been ‘engineered’ by a far sighted personality. An increase in the number of representatives in the State Assembly can mean so many things to so many people. For one, it would automatically mean giving avenues to more hill people to enter the highest decision making body in the State and have more say in how the Assembly takes decisions. It could also mean having a say in passing crucial decisions and when it does not agree with their line of thinking stay away from the proceedings of the House. As noted earlier here, such a move could have only come from a very far sighted leader and this is something which should be acknowledged, that is if one agrees with the stand that the growth rate is abnormally high. The significance of inflating population on paper should be understood and it is time for all the political leaders of the State to understand the delimitation question beyond the frame of increasing Assembly seats in certain areas and decreasing the already existing number of seats in certain areas. The proposed delimitation process also need to be seen in the backdrop of the fact that a final solution between New Delhi and the NSCN (IM) is near at hand. Preserve the territorial integrity of Manipur and yet at the same time give something to the NSCN (IM) could well be a model pact, though this cannot be the only one. That something has to be given is understood by all.