Making it to the list of probables
Stand on ST demand
It is interesting. First time MP but already included amongst three personalities who may make their way into the Council of Ministers in the next expansion of the Narendra Modi Government and certainly titular King of Manipur, Leishemba Sanajaoba has come a long way. Everybody loves a winner it seems and not even two months since he was elected to the Upper House of Parliament on June 19, and Sanajaoba today is talked in the same breath as some of the seasoned politicians of the North East region such as Himanta Biswa Sarma and Agatha Sangma. Whether he makes the cut for the Council of Ministers or not will only be known when the next expansion takes place, which is likely to be after the ‘bhoomi puja’ of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya on August 5, but just the fact that his name is there in the company of Himanta Biswa Sarma and Agatha Sangma as among the probables is significant, politically and otherwise. Any comment or opinion on the otherwise part is best left alone at the moment but it is important to note that Leishemba Sanajaoba, long before he came into the spotlight as the man picked by the BJP to be their man at the Upper House of Parliament, did throw his weight behind the demand spearheaded by the Co-ordinating Body on Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur to include the Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India. Now that he is an MP representing the State in Parliament, it would be interesting to see if he can give some meaningful push to the demand raised by the CBSTDCM, more so if he is inducted into the Council of Ministers.
How much influence can a politician wield, especially on a subject as sensitive as the demand that the Meiteis be included in the ST list is a natural question that follows. Only time will tell, but if Sanajaoba carries off from the March 3, 2019 mass public rally in which he prominently took part, leading the rally with the banner raising the demand, then perhaps it would make him the first political figure of the State to openly back the demand raised by the STDCM. If this happens, then this is where things can get interesting. As things stand, there are already huge difference of opinion between those who back the ST demand and those who are against the demand. Moreover it is significant to remember the verbal duel that carried on for days between representatives of the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur and some gentlemen, particularly from Pan Manipur Convention, over the question of whether the Meiteis should be included in the ST list or not. More than this, the opposing stand taken by people from the Meitei community over whether the community fits the description of a tribal group to be included in the ST list or not can see a renewed debate. Not many may be clear on the task ahead of the Rajya Sabha MP, but now that he is in the limelight, debates over this question is a distinct possibility. The important poser at this moment however is whether Leishemba Sanajaoba still sticks to the stand that made him join the pro-ST rally on March 3, 2019, or whether he has had a change of heart.