Mature handling of ST campaign Address the opposition

Led by the venerable Dhiraj Yumnam, a former Director of the Department of Commerce and Industries, maturity is written all over the mode of campaign launched by the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee to sensitise the public as well as draw the attention of the State Government to send the needed recommendations to the Centre to enlist the Meeteis/Meiteis in the Scheduled Tribe list of the Constitution of India. Not over the top utilisation of one’s lung power and not a show of raw strength, but nevertheless deliver the message that the ST demand for the Meeteis/Meiteis is an ongoing campaign and the needed point will be taken to those who matter. This is exactly what the STDCM has been doing ever since it launched its ‘intensified’ campaign to give more teeth to the ST demand. Interesting to note that the campaign this time started off with street corner meetings, dharnas at selected places, meetings at different places where the need to enlist the Meeteis/Meiteis in the ST list is discussed and deliberated upon. Led by elderly gentlemen who obviously does not believe in vocal power and this is what makes the campaign of STDCM all that more fresh and appealing. Such an approach should also go down well with the dispensation and the people in positions of power and influence. From the street corner meetings to dharnas and public meetings at selected spots, STDCM has now gone one step ahead and that is to visit the residences of Ministers and in the process submit a memorandum listing their demand and receive a nod of agreement from the people in positions of power. If Education Minister Thounaojam Basanta set the ball rolling with publicly endorsing the stand of STDCM, Power Minister Th Biswajit seems to have taken it one step ahead in informing that the matter has already been put up before Central leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and topped it off with the observation that the response of the Prime Minister was quite positive. Perhaps this is the first time that a Minister in the ruling Government has deemed it necessary to inform that the ST demand for the Meeteis/Meiteis has already reached the ears and eyes of the Prime Minister. How the STDCM capitalises on this remains to be seen, but perhaps this is the push that is needed to give more substance to the ST campaign. Make the divulgence of the Power Minister count. Take off from there and add some more energy to the campaign is a line that comes to mind here.
Positive response from the Prime Minister line must progress to the stage of action taken by the State Government in formally sending the needed recommendations to the Centre. This is where the STDCM will need to put more finesse to its campaign. It is still not clear whether the STDCM has reached out to the communities which are already included in the ST list on the demand for the ST tag for the Meeteis/Meiteis. At the moment the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur is the most vocal in opposing the ST demand raised by STDCM and the World Meetei Council. And this is not a new development, for its goes back earlier to the days when ATSUM and members of WMC were engaged in a series of debate over the issue, the articles of which were carried in The Sangai Express. Equally important too is the question of what steps the STDCM has taken up to reach out to the section of Meitei people who are staunchly against the ST tag demand for the Meeteis/Meiteis ? Reach out to them and work out a formula which may be acceptable to all. Why not look at the creamy and non-creamy layer formula of a community belonging to the Other Backward Classes category ? The Meeteis/Meiteis are included in the OBC category subject to the classification of creamy and non-creamy layer. This is just one example that comes to mind and the STDCM led as it is by eminent personalities, who at one point of time occupied positions of influence in the Government will surely have the resources to suggest some models which may be practical and acceptable.