Mary kindles hopes of India's unrepresented communities

K Sarojkumar *

Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom (MC Mary Kom)
Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom (MC Mary Kom) :: Pix - Donny Meisnam Luwang

The enthusiasm of the nation's citizens belonging to small communities to contest polls is virtually repressed by the power and number game electoral politics.

Notwithstanding their catalytic roles in electing representatives, they remain as voters and their community unrepresented for long. The unhealthy system holds water the dream of many upcoming leaders who have deep political aspirations.

Extraordinary exception exists in the form of nomination of great personalities to the House by the Government in recognition of their extra-ordinary feats.

The nomination of boxing champion, MC Mary Kom to the Rajya Sabha by the BJP is one such glaring instance as Kom to which Mary belongs, is a tiny tribal ethic group, a constituent subtribe of the 6 that make up the Komrem community of Manipur.

Mary's elevation to the high political post has given a hard punch to the power politics and number game theory, thanks to the towering achievements of the lady pugilist. Her feat has also given a flicker of hope to individuals belonging to other small tribes across the nation to groom and getting them recognized by the Centre.

The whole north-east particularly strife-torn Manipur erupted with joy over the nomination of Mary to the Rajya Sabha.

The utmost contentment is, however, seen in the Komrem, a conglomerate of tiny sub-tribes - Kharam, Chiru, Aimol, Koiren, Purum and Kom. Komrem's age-old dream to project and send a political representative from the community in the Parliament comes true with the unprecedented nomination of Mary Kom to the Rajya Sabha.

"Although we had a representative in the State Assembly in the seventies when K Ashon Kom won twice from Saikul constituency in Senapati district, no one from the entire Komrem community got elected since then", said Lalkhomang Serto, president of the apex Komrem Union, North East India (KRUNEI).

"One of the major factors in failing to elect a Komrem representative either in the Assembly leave aside the Parliament is the topographical factor as their settlements are divided by different assembly constituencies. Of the Komrem's overall population of around 35,000 in the state, Kom shares half of it. The figure is minuscule, looking from the entire 28 lakh population of Manipur. Majority of the Komrem tribes are settled at the foothills surrounding Imphal valley adjoining Churachandpur, Senapati, Chandel and Ukhrul districts", Lalkhomang said.

He further said, "Mary Kom's nomination to the Upper House is a fulfilment of our long standing dream. We are proud of her and we also express our heartfelt gratitude to the honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With the nomination, Manipur has four MPs - two Lok Sabha and as many in the Rajya Sabha. Komrem Union conveys our heartiest congratulation to Mary. We want her to bridge the Komrem community with the Centre and the State governments. We also believe that, we and other micro minorities of our country will always be saved, progressed, developed and able to participate in the decision making process of our nation in the years to come as long as we are under the leadership of the greatest Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi", Lakhomang said.

Along with five other personalities of the nation, the Olympic bronze medalist and five-time world boxing champion were nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Centre, a few days back.

Though Mary would enter the Upper House, she, initially, had a little uncertainty because of her love of boxing. The mother of three sons feared that becoming an MP would damage her sporting career as well as the boxing academy named after her in Imphal.

All is well now as she is resolute to embark on the political forum with a clear agenda - to focus her mind and physical craftsmanship to enter next year's Rio Olympics and a grab a goal and to promote sports in the north-east in general and Manipur in particular at her best level through political channels. This came after a crucial consultation with her husband Onler Kom, the force behind shaping her career. Mary will fight in the world women boxing championship in Kazakhstan next month. Performance in the championship will decide her entry in the Olympics.

Mary has sacrificed everything for boxing since her childhood and her strenuous journey from her native Kangathei village in Churchandpur district to World championship victory stands was well essayed in a film.

On Friday last, Mary had said that she was in dilemma as she had to choose between her dream of promoting boxing in Manipur and politics.

"I have advised and convinced Mary to accept the great and honourable post of MP Rajya Sabha with a key rider to focus only on development of sports. To my satisfaction, Mary agreed. Later both of us agreed to chalk out her lined up works. As of now Mary will focus more on Rio Olympics and the ensuing world championship. Another great advantage to have Mary as an MP is in promoting sports in the whole north-east region particularly Manipur as the Central authorities could be easily convinced on the issue by her", Mary Kom's husband, Onler Kom said.

The MC Mary Kom Boxing Academy located close to her Langol residence in Imphal West is currently functioning well with over 100 young pugilists, mostly belonging to poor families gaining skills of the tough game. Some of them won laurels in various national and state championships.

Besides Mary, Komrem has also produced eminent personalities including one High Court Judge, two IAS, one IPS, five Manipur Civil Service (MCS) officers, 25 doctors, 15 engineers, 20 Government college and higher secondary school lecturers and many other white collared jobs in both Government and private sectors. According to Kom elders, the name 'Kom' was derived from the phrase 'Lu Kakom' meaning 'turbaned people'. Despite majority of the Komrem tribes having converted to Christianity, a mission to revive the dying culture of the community is on, they said.

Manipur unit BJP has lauded Prime Minister and the party's president Amit Shah for nominating Mary to the Upper House, saying that the move is the greatest example of transforming into reality India's ambitious Act East Policy.

* K Sarojkumar wrote this article which was published at The Sangai Express
The article is originally from
This article was posted on April 27, 2016.

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