TODAY -

ATSUM for timely conduct of ADC polls
Source: The Sangai Express / Newmai News Network

Imphal, October 07 2020: While reiterating its demand for timely conduct of Autonomous District Council (ADC) election 2020, a joint meeting of the All Tribal Students' Union, Manipur (ATSUM) and its federating units/district based students' organisation was held on Wednesday (October 7) at ATSUM office, Adimjati Complex, Chingmeirong 11.30 am today to deliberate on the impending ADC election impasse and took a number of decision on the issue.

The meeting was attended by senior leaders of ATSUM, Kuki Students' Organisation-general headquarters (KSO-GHQ), All Naga Students' Association, Manipur (ANSAM) and ATSUM federating units, according to a statement of ATSUM.

According to the statement, after threadbare discussion, the meeting resolved to place the position/reasons of ATSUM for opposing further extension of the tenure of the incumbent ADC.

ATSUM pointed out that, "Section No.13, second paragraph of the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Councils Act, 1971, explicitly states that 'provided that the Administrator may, when satisfied that it is necessary in order to avoid administrative difficulty, extend the term of office of all the members by such period not exceeding one year as he/she thinks fit".

ATSUM said that the Hill Areas Committee (HAC), "for reasons best known to them, had deliberately misled the public by misinterpreting 'rainy season' as administrative difficulty and recommended the State Government for deferment of election of the six ADCs of Manipur Hill districts" .

According to ATSUM, based on the HAC recommendation, the State Cabinet without pondering the legality/rationality of the provisions of the Act had hastily deferred the ADCs election for six months.

"Subsequently, Tribal Affairs and Hills, Government of Manipur issued an order for extension of the term of office of all Members of the Autonomous District Councils with election to be held in the intervening month of October and November 2020 vide Order No 7/1/2019 –Hills(ADC/ELEC) dated 19th March 2020" .

The apex tribal students' body of Manipur added, "That, the State Government, in contrast to its official Order No.7/1/2019 –Hills(ADC/ELEC) dated 19th March 2020 for conduct of ADC Election, is deliberately hesitating to publish draft electoral rolls of ADCs of each Constituency despite intimation from the State Election Commission to do so.

This desperate hesitation of the State Government is uncalled for".

ATSUM said that categorisation of harvesting and COVID-19 pandemic as two major reasons to extend the current tenure by the Chairmen of four ADCs namely Ukhrul ADC, Chandel ADC, Tamenglong ADC and Kangpokpi ADC is uncalled for.

"The intention of the four ADC chairmen for extension of their office term based on their two given reasons i.e 'harvesting' and 'COVID-19' is improbable because people of the State including the hill populace are directly connected with the agriculture activities throughout the year starting from the beginning of the year till the end," the tribal student body said.

It added, "Thus, citing 'harvesting' as a reason for extension of ADC term and coining/interpreting it as administrative difficulty as per the Manipur (Hills) District Council Act 1971 is ridiculous".

Secondly, ATSUM said, it is a matter of fact that everyone in the whole globe is reeling under the global pandemic.

"However, the hill people need effective and popular local/grassroot governance to deal with these pandemic according to law," it added.

Importantly, the Election Commission of India has already announced the date of by-election for some Assembly Constituencies of Manipur, ATSUM said and added for safe conduct of the elections, ECI had also issued protocols/broad guidelines to be followed during the conduct of the by-elections during COVID-1."Thus, the intention of extending ADC terms of office on the pretext of COVID-19 pandemic to is irrational", it added.

According to ATSUM, the term of office of the incumbent ADCs in the aftermath of the first six months extension expires in the month of November 2020."As decided at a joint meeting of the Chairmen of the six Autonomous District Councils meeting held on July 21, 2020, the Chairmen of ADC Ukhrul, ADC Chandel, ADC Kangpokpi and ADC Tamenglong urged the State Government and HAC to extend the terms of office of all Members of ADCs by another six months starting from December 1, 2020 till May 31, 2021," it added.

Ridiculing this, ATSUM said that "this move" of six ADCs for another extension of six months is a serious mockery "because the reason of their initial extension was that the month of June-July being a rainy season, conducting of ADC is not convenient for all".

However, according to ATSUM, if another six months extension of incumbent ADC terms of office is granted, the next election of ADC will fall in the month of June-July 2021 which will naturally be again a rainy season.

"Thus, it will self nullify their previous reasons of extension," it ridiculed.

Therefore, taking all these facts into account, the joint meeting of ATSUM and its federating units/district based student organisations seriously considered the attempt of the Chairmen for extension of another six months as a selfish act guided by personal interest.

The student body also warned that if reasons fail to convince the ADC Members and if the current ADCs are not dissolved to pave the way for fresh elections, ATSUM in consultation with its federating units would take further course of action in the larger interests of the tribal people.


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