Stand of STDCM and WMC Sustaining ST demand
Give it more teeth or is it a case of radical measures being needed to make it more vocal so that it reaches the ears and eyes of the people concerned ? This is a question which may be dogging the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur in the face of the series of sit-in protests held all over the valley districts in the last many days, but which seemingly does not have elicited any response from the Government at Imphal. The World Meetei Council, with a similar agenda, and which had earlier vouched their unstinting support to any course of action taken up by the STDCM too must be mulling over this poser. To many others too, who have not physically joined the series of sit-ins or rallies held earlier, but nonetheless thrown their weight behind the ST status demand of STDCM and WMC, this poser too will sound significant. To make the ST categorisation demand for the Meeteis/Meiteis more vocal and more effective, what are the steps that have been taken up or are being mulled to take everyone along ? This question is crucial for the very step that the STDCM and the WMC have taken up are crucial for the Meetei/Meitei community. This is perhaps where meaningful interactions may be the need of the moment to reach out to other civil society organisations, bodies which share the same thought process as the STDCM and the WMC to give more voice to the ST stand. Perhaps the STDCM and the WMC were not placed that well to make the ST call a poll issue in the just held Assembly elections and this is where spadework ought to start on how to make it a poll issue, when Manipur goes to polls in 2027. How about the different political parties ? What steps have been taken up to convince them of the need to tag the Meeteis/Meiteis as Scheduled Tribe in the Constitution of India ? How about reaching out to the hill based, hill centric organisations ? The question of job reservation or admission reservation to educational institutions or land rights may emerge as roadblocks while trying to convince the hill based organisations, but Manipur can always work out its own rules and regulations without hurting the interests of the groups which are already tagged STs. Try and reach out may be what is needed.
Wrongs of history and unfair to the people. And the Meitei community today continue to exist without any Constitutional protection and it says something profound that there are still some sections of people from amongst the Meitei community who come under the impression that being tagged STs would amount to ‘dragging’ down the people and besmirching its rich culture and traditions. This is where it becomes necessary for the STDCM and the WMC to try and win over this section of people too. What steps have been taken up along this line is a question that follows. Certainly not an easy job it is going to be and in as much as the STDCM and the WMC may confront obstacles in their bid to get the ST tag for the Meeteis/Meiteis, the same may be facing the State Government too. If this is the case then it would do good for the Government at Imphal to spell this out so that the needed measures may be taken up. The stoic silence, bordering on indifference is not exactly expected of the State Government. The BJP led Government at Imphal has already taken a tough decision to do away with prohibition and with over 30 MLAs in its kitty, it should not be too much of a problem for it to send the needed recommendations to the Centre, as asked earlier. Dealing with the ST tag demand for the Meeteis/Meiteis may be the next big challenge before the Government here.