The Centre is yet to be formally approached but the very fact that the State Government held a round of talk with the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee on the latter’s proposal that the Meiteis be included in the ST list of the Constitution of India seems to be a good start.
It is not the case of The Sangai Express to endorse or oppose the demand raised by the STDCM, for there are others who are better placed to air their opinion, but it is nonetheless interesting to note the verbal duel between a gentleman (batting for the inclusion of Meiteis in the ST list) and a young tribal man who stands against this proposal.
ATSUM’s stand on the issue and its public statement that the Meiteis should not be included in the ST list was central to the debate between the two gentlemen.
Prior to this, there was a debate between STDCM and their supporters and others who went against the idea of including the Meiteis in the ST list.
Early days yet and the interesting question is, where does the State Government stand on this ?
Does meeting the STDCM mean endorsing the stand that Meiteis be included in the ST list or does it mean giving an ear to their position ?
Does the statement of the Chief Minister N Biren on the floor of the Assembly that the matter would be referred to the Manipur State Commission for Scheduled Tribes an affirmation that the State Government backs the stand of STDCM or should it be taken to mean that it is merely referring the matter to a body which is officially recognised to give their views.
Significantly, general secretary of STDCM, Retd Colonel Laishram Lokendro informed the media, “As of now, nothing has been discussed about the State Government endorsing the same demand,” after the first round of talk with the State Government on October 24.
The State Government is yet to announce its stand officially, and it is here that it becomes interesting to ask whether the STDCM has been able to take the different sections of people along with their demand or not.
The State Government maintaining equi-distance from the proponent and opponent of the ST demand for Meiteis may well be guided by the fact that there are polarising view points but yet at the same time it stands that there will come a time when it has to state its stand, after all it is the State Government which has to forward the recommendation to the Centre.
It is not the STDCM which can send such a recommendation to the Centre. This is where the role of the State Government will become interesting to watch.
It may also be in line for the STDCM to seriously think why the Meiteis were not included in the ST list in the first place and it is here that a frank appraisal of what happened in the past becomes important and crucial.
Did the Meiteis miss the ST bus due to some wrong notions about oneself or was it something decided by New Delhi alone ?
The politics of push and pull in the coming days will be interesting to watch and while those against the proposal that the Meiteis be included in the ST list have been maintaining silence there is no guarantee that it will remain silent in the near future.
Yet at the same time, it is also in line for all to remember that it is only the competent authority of the Government of India which can decide whether Meiteis should be included in the ST list or not.
Source: The Sangai Express