The All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) in a memorandum submitted to the chief minister on Monday warns of various forms of agitations if fresh ADCs’ elections are not conducted in time.
ATSUM submitted a memorandum to the chief minister on Monday and sought immediate consideration of the recommendation of the Hill Areas Committee for timely conduct of the election.
The memorandum stated that the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, 1971 was enacted by the parliament of India on December 26, 1971 with an objective of instituting self-governance of the tribal people in the hill areas of Manipur and in order to protect its land, resources, culture, traditional practices and decentralisation of the governance system.
Subsequently, in 1972, the state government, through the governor, framed the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Rules, 1972 and thus elections were held for consecutive terms until 2015.
However, elections for two decades (1988-2010) were abruptly halted with hill people demanding more autonomy of the Autonomous District Councils, it added.
After two decades (1988-2010), elections to six ADCs were resumed starting from 2010 and consecutively in 2015.
With the incumbent term of office of ADCs (i.e. 2015-2020) nearing its expiry, the Hill Areas Committee (HAC), Manipur had deliberately misinterpreted ‘rainy season’ as administrative difficulty and recommended the state government for deferment of ADCs Election preferably in the month of November 2020, said the memorandum.
Accordingly, in pursuance of the state cabinet decision dated March 3, the state government extended the tenure of the ADCs for six months w.e.f June 1 to November 30.
The same order also mentioned that election of the ADCs shall be held in the intervening month of October and November 2020. However, the state government is adamantly hesitating to initiate ADC election related activities like publication of Electoral Rolls and Announcement of Election Dates till now, it added.
The union expressed dissatisfaction with the four ADC chairmen of Chandel, Ukhrul, Kangpokpi and Tamenglong for urging the HAC and state government to extend the terms of office of all members of six ADCs by another six months starting from December 1, 2020 till May 31, 2021 citing ‘Harvesting and COVID-19’ as reasons for extension.
It maintained that such reasons of extension as mentioned by four ADC chairman is irrational as people of the state including the hill populace are directly connected with the agriculture activities throughout the year and citing ‘Harvesting’ as a reason for extension of ADCs’ term as per the Manipur (Hills) District Council Act 1971 is ridiculous, it added.
The memorandum also mentioned that the Election Commission of India (ECI) had already announced the date of by-election for some assembly constituencies of Manipur, extending ADC terms of office on the pretext of COVID-19 pandemic to meet whims of few individuals is irrational, it added.
After having extended the ADCs tenure for six months (from June 1, 2020 to November 30, 2020) on the basis of June-July being the rainy season, and not convenient to hold elections, the memorandum added that if another six months extension of ADCs tenure starting from December 1, 2020 is granted, the next election of ADC will fall in the month of June-July 2021 which will naturally be again a rainy season.
Eventually, it will self-nullify their previous reasons of extension, said the memorandum.
Now that the terms of office of all the incumbent members of the six ADCs is due to expire on November 30, it is imperative on the part of the state government to respect the proposal and recommendation of HAC to hold the ADC election on time and adhere to state government’s order dated March 19 for holding of the election in the intervening month of October and November 2020, it added.
Considering the aforementioned facts and circumstances, ATSUM has urged the state chief minister to initiate necessary prompt measures to dissolve the term of office of the six ADCs’ members and pave ways for timely conduct of fresh election.