What if the Centre looks the other way ? Why not make it a poll call
Not very sure if this question has been raised within, but it is important for the people to know-what if the Centre refuses to grant Scheduled Tribe status to the Meiteis as raised by the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur (STDCM). At the moment, the demand seems to be directed at the State Government to send the recommendation to the Centre to include the Meitei community in the ST list of the Constitution of India. The only point stopping the demand from going to the next stage seems to be the reluctance of the State Government to send the needed recommendation to the Centre. But the interesting question is, if the State Government does send the recommendation and the Centre rejects the demand then what ? What other demands or points can be put up to offer some sort of a Constitutional protection to the Meiteis who have so far been left to fend for themselves without any protection, unlike the numerous others in the North East region who come under the ST tag ? The Meiteis are an advanced lot, with a history of its own, rich in culture and sports and such class of people cannot come under the tag of the Scheduled Tribe, will be the line of argument put forth by many who do not see eye to eye with the demand raised by the STDCM. This is one line of thought that will and had indeed come from some sections of the Meitei people, and while this particular debate seems to have cooled down for the time being, it stands that the ST demand for the Meiteis is still alive and kicking. How things will unfold is anybody’s guess, but remember the Government of Assam has already recommended that six communities, the Chutiya, Koch-Rajbongshi, Matak, Moran, Tai-Ahom and the ‘Tea Tribe’ be granted the Scheduled Tribe status. The Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur must have already taken note of the decision taken by the Government of Assam and one wonders if this would give them the needed impetus to intensify their drive. On the other hand it is also important to question whether the STDCM has been able to carry all the people of the Meitei community along with their stand or not.
The ST status demand for the Meiteis is not something new and the STDCM has been pursuing this for some time now. Significantly the Pan Meetei Convention (PMC) too has thrown their weight behind this particular demand and one wonders what other steps are in store to give this demand the needed push. The first obviously will be to see if the STDCM and the PMC are able to take the demand to the political sphere and turn it into a poll call. How many political parties, or for that matter, will the two principal political parties, the BJP and the Congress, be ready and willing to take the ST demand to some sort of a poll call ? Will any of the political party be in a position to include this demand in their election manifesto or make it something of a subject worth debating in the run up to the Assembly election, which is due to be held in the early part of next year ? An answer may not exactly come now, but it would be politically prudent for the STDCM and the PMC to do their homework and see if they can work their way into the consciousness of any of the political party, particularly the BJP and the Congress and see if they can turn their demand into something of a poll call in the run up to the Assembly election. This is one way of taking the demand further.