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A bicameral system for Manipur

IFP Editorial: Among the 33 odd recognised tribes inhabiting the tiny state of Manipur, the majority of the tribes, more particularly the smaller tribes have yet to see representation in the state legislative assembly.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 2 Nov 2022, 7:23 pm

A one-day cultural exchange programme of Koireng Tribe at Longa Koireng village in Kangpokpi district, November 3, 2022 (PHOTO: IFP)
A one-day cultural exchange programme of Koireng Tribe at Longa Koireng village in Kangpokpi district, November 3, 2022 (PHOTO: IFP)

The Koireng tribe is just one of the 19 smaller tribes inhabiting Manipur since times immemorial and their demand for political representation is very much genuine. Given the complex and diverse ethnic composition of the state, the need for a legislative council had long been felt.

Among the 33 odd recognised tribes inhabiting this tiny state of ours, the majority of the tribes, more particularly the smaller tribes have yet to see representation in the state legislative assembly. We know, Manipur does not merit a legislative council if it is to be considered from the perspective of population and size. Only six states namely Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Telengana and Maharashtra have legislative councils now while it was abolished in the case of West Bengal, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and latest in the case of Uttarakhand.

ALSO READ: Koireng tribe demands special status, adoption of bicameral legislature

According to Article 169 of the Constitution of India, the Parliament of India can create or abolish the State Legislative Council of a state if that state's legislature passes a resolution for that with a special majority. As of December 2020, 6 out of the 28 states have a State Legislative Council. It was abolished in West Bengal, Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and in the latest case Uttarakhand. The existence of a State Legislative Council has proven politically controversial.

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A number of states that have had their Legislative Council abolished are now demanding its re-establishment. However, proposals for the re-establishment of the Legislative Council for a state have also met with opposition.

The State Legislative Councils are criticised as being unnecessary. It is considered a burden on the state budget and causes delays in passing legislation. On the other hand, legislative councils help the defeated leaders to get a seat in the state legislature. Some states support the establishment of legislative councils, arguing that they represent the local governments and also give voice to people having expertise in various fields.

The Constitution of India gives limited power to the State Legislative Council. The State Legislative Council can neither form nor dissolve a state government. The State Legislative Council also has no role in the passing of money bills. Members of the legislative councils are either elected or nominated. The tenure of the MLCs is six years.

One-third of the members of the State Legislative Council retire after every two years. This arrangement parallels that for the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India. Some of the members are elected through the votes of MLAs and others by members of local bodies while nomination by the state Governor are eminent personalities from diverse professions.

That is the system which goes within the ambit of Indian Constitution and in other states. But, the case of Manipur is different where there is an urgent need to cater to the lack of representation among the smaller tribes. The recognised tribes of Manipur are Aimol, Anal, Chiru, Chothe, Gangte, Inpui, Hmar, Kharam, Khoibu, Koirao, Kom, Lamkang, Liangmai, Mao, Maram, Maring, Mate, Monsang, Moyon, Paite, Poumai, Purum, Ralte, Rongmei (Kabui), Simte, Suhte, Tangkhul, Tarao, Thadou, Thangal, Vaiphei, Zeme and Zou.

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And among them 19 of them like Aimol, Chiru, Chothe, Monsang, Moyon, Kharam, Khoibu, Koirao, Kom, Lamkang, Purum and Tarao, etc. are in the endangered category as many of them had either assimilated or being absorbed by the neighbouring tribes with bigger numbers.

British ethnographers had indeed identified these tribes as Old Kukis on the basis of their culture, customs and linguistic features. But, they became caught in the drive of Naga nationalism. However, many of these smaller tribes have a desire to retain their distinctive identity.

It is in this context that we are vouching for a distinctive legislative council of our own so that these smaller tribes are given due representation in the overall scheme of things and of course a political space befitting a tribe or nation howsoever small it may be.

EDITORIAL

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Tags:

koireng tribeendangered tribebicameral legislature

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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