ADC elections assured, but when ?
Stand of ATSUM
Elections to be held. But the more important question is when it will be held. Not surprisingly the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur (ATSUM) has seen red over the alleged failure of the State Government to announce when the election would be held. It is important to note that a report from the Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) on March 27 had merely stated that the Cabinet had resolved to hold elections to the ADCs including in the newly created districts of Kamjong, Tengnoupal, Pherzawl and Noney. When the elections would be held was not at all mentioned in the report and it is this which the ATSUM finds disagreeable. Not yet clear how long it would take to set up new ADCs in the said four districts which were set up at the fag end of 2016, but it is clear that the State would not be a position to hold the ADC election anytime soon in the coming days. Obviously setting up the new ADCs will take time and it is this which the ATSUM is not ready to digest. It is obviously to air their grievances that the student body has lined up a series of agitations from April 5 and how it can impact on the lives of the common people will be known only when the agitation starts. The demand of ATSUM is clear and that is to hold the ADC elections on time and from the stance they have adopted it is clear that they smell a rat in the failure of the State Cabinet to announce when the elections would be held. And isn’t that what ATSUM has been demanding all this time ? That is hold the elections on time without further ado. It also stands that ATSUM cannot be expected to be the lone voice of the hill people but as questioned here earlier, what was the Demand Committee on Creation of ADCs, Manipur doing all these years ? The demand that ADCs in four newly created districts should be created could have been raised a long time back and one wonders why it should emerge with this demand at this point of time.
It is not yet clear but elections to the ADCs can also be seen as some sort of a curtain raiser to the Assembly elections scheduled in the early part of next year. In many ways the outcome of the ADC elections can show where the different political parties stand at the grassroots level in the hill areas and this calculation will not be missed by many of the keen political observers in the State. It is somewhat like the Municipal elections in the urban areas and the Zilla Parishads in the rural areas of the valley. As things stand right now, ATSUM has gone ahead and announced that delaying elections to the ADCs amounts to belittling the interests of the tribal people. Drawing up the hill-valley dichotomy and this is something which Manipur does not need at the moment. The Government should spell out when it intends to hold the ADC elections and the sooner this is done, the better it would be for everyone. The Government will also need to go in for a rethink on its decision to hold the ADC elections along with the ADC elections in the newly created districts. Why not hold the elections to the existing ADCs and then work out the details of setting up the ADCs in the newly created districts later ? This is a question worth considering. The understanding of democracy at the grassroots level should not be diluted at any cost.