Political climate of Manipur during the transitionary period, 1946-52
- Some reflections -
- Part 2 -

Dr Priyadarshni M Gangte *

It was during this period in the hills of Manipur socio-political organizations: such as the Kuki National Assembly (KNA) which later on converted into political party and finally to secessionist group and the Khulmi National Union (KNU) were also established; on 24th October, 1946 and 6th July, 1947 under the leaderships of Zavum Misao and Thangkhopau Kipgen and Teba Kilong and T.C. Tiankham. In fact, these two organizations became very active in shaping the political scenario in the Kuki dominated areas in Manipur.

The Constituent member tribes of KNA were
(i) Anal,
(ii) Chiru;
(iii) Gangte;
(iv) Guite;
(v) Hmar;
(vi) Koireng;
(vii) Kom;
(ix) Paite,
(x) Simte;
(xi) Thadou;
(xii) Vaiphei and
(xiii) Zou.

Not pleased with the Thadou dominancy and arrogance, the non Thadou ethnic grupos, searched for a more democratic pan tribal organisation as an alternative to KNA, as an outcome of the subject matter, a parallel body the KNU, came into existence with its constituent tribes, namely :
(i) Aimol;
(ii) Anal,
(iii) Baite;
(iv) Chiru;
(v) Doungel;
(vi) Gangte;
(vii) Hanghal;
(viii) Khongsai (Lunkim, Changsan, Hlangum, Lengthang);
(xi) Manlhun,
(xii) Maring;
(xiii) Mate;
(xiv) Moyon;
(xv) Paite;
(xvi) Purum,
(xviii) Simte;
(xix) Tarao;
(xx) Vaiphei and
(xxi) Zou.

As a pan non-Naga tribal political organization KNU contested in 1948 election of Manipur State Assembly and seven of its member become victorious in the said election. The year 1947 also witnessed the birth of another association of non-Naga tribes, called the Kom Rem Association of which Kom, Aimol, Chiru, Koireng, Purum and Kharam were the member tribes. However, the idea of adopting this generic term did not last long as the Government of India did not recognized, creating an environment to the formation of splinter groups like the Hmar National Organization, the Tiddim Chin Union, the Baite National Government Council and the Mate Tribal Union due to the lack of mutual trust and a common ideology and also partly of arrogant, dominant attitude of the Thadous. Moreover, the southern part of Churachandpur District bordering Miroram was affected by the Mizo Union, formed on 11th April, 1946 at Aizawl, Mizoram movement.

The Mizo Union was the first ever Regional Political Party established in the erstwhile Lushai Hills (now Mizoram) bom on 9th April, 1946 at Lungleh in its adhoc basis uner the style of Mizo Common People's Union. A branch of the same had opened in Manipur under the leaderships of L. Tawna and G.L. Daka as its President and Secretary. In 1948 this party was divided on the is-of'merger "of Hmar' inhabited areas of Manipur with Lushai Hills (Mizoram) and the lone candidate of Mizo Union contested in the election was defeated'

The other regional political parties in the Hill areas of Manipur were also the Naga National League (NNL) formed in September, 1946 with its manifesto to bring all the Nagas under one Flag and the Naga Peoples League under the leadership of Athiko Daiho Mao. The party, in its public meeting held in 1948, at Song-Song, Mao in Manipur, decided to boycott the preparation of the electoral rolls for the ensuing elections to the Manipur State Legislative Assembly. The Kabui Samiti/Association as well as the Tangkhul Association, inter alia, had strong hands in formulating policies and programme of the Naga National League and the Naga Peoples League.

Thus, in 1948 election was conducted, in such a way, that each candidate was given one ballot box on which the symbol of the candidate and his were played.

As the masses were illiterate, the simplest, an easy method to indicate and signify was adopted. P.C. Deb (Revenue Officer) was the Returning Officer, 11 and 30 June in the valley and 26 and 27 July were periods of commencement and carried out successfully.

Declaration of result took some days, announcement of result were on 14 July (Valley) and 6 August (Hills). Out of the total number of 53 seats, there was only 52 elected members of the first Manipur Legislative Assembly, one seat of a hill constituency was not filled up. But, no party was able to obtain an absolute majority in this historic event. Relating to this, it will more clear to have the party-wise position as given by Gangmumei
(i) State Congress 14(fourteen),
(ii)Manipur Krishak Sabha-5(five),
(iii) Socialist Party-3(three);
(iv) Hill (Independents) - 18(eighteen), and
(v) Praja Santi-12(twelve).

Thus on 18 ''October; 1948. the elected the Palace Darbar Hall. Manipur had already conducted the democratic exercise in June 1948 under the Manipur Election Rules, more than three years ahead of the first election in India held in 1952. The Maharaja administered the oath, henceforth, coalition government of Praja Santi and the 18 Independent M.L.A's from the Hills and Krishak Sabha was formed. The Raja made every effort to stabilize the Praja Shanti led Government.

It will be worthmentioning that these 18 M.L.As. from the hills joined the coalition government on the condition that the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly should be a tribal, secondly no part of Manipur should never be merged with any other State, thirdly the individuality of the State should be maintained at any cost. Subsequently the M.L.As from the hill areas also insisted that if any neighbouring areas desire to join Manipur, it should welcome and be permitted to do so.

Thus the politcal environment healthy with all assurances and promises to, including responsible form of government with the Maharaja as its constitutional head made by the Council of Minister, was, however, did not last long.

A totally different political scenario developed in Manipur with the Maharaja signing the Merger Agreement with India on 21 st September, 1949 and enforced in 15th October, 1949 along with Benaras and Tripura, Manipur became a part of the Indian Union under "Part-C" status by the enacted "Part-C", Act to which everyone in Manipur felt extremely regretted and insulted. Resist and protest of all kinds erupted in the state, Joykumar emphatically maintained : "The most significant epoch making development in the political history of Manipur was the movement for the merger of Manipur into the Indian Union."

As a consequence, during the last part of 1949, the D.O.C. and the Red Guard undertook major organizational changes of which the latter i.e Red Guard became very active in the beginning of 1950. Thus, Manipur merged with the Indian Union as part-C state on January 22, 1950, then as a Territorial Council in 1956, and became a Union Territory in 1963. Obviously, these are the root causes of insurgency in Manipur. In this regard, it is imperative to note the contention of Pillai (G.K. Pillai, former Union Home Secretary) on September, at a lecture titled "Manipur - the way forward" at Delhi,: "the ancient kingdom, which had a constitution even before India wrote her own, had its own proud history and was overnight turned into a C-category state in 1948".

Instead of paying attention the Government of India constituted an Advisory Council consisting of the Chief Commissioner and fourteen others nominated by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Commissioner. The Council was inaugurated on 9th October, 1950 consisting with
(i) Sinam Krishhamohon Singh;
(ii) H. Dwijamani Dev Sharma,
(iii) Salam Tombi Singh,
(iv) Dr. L. Kampu Gangte and
(v) A. Daiho Mao.

It was, however, "compelled to do so as the term "Part C" state meant that it had no popularly elected body and was ruled by a Chief Commissioner responsible directly to Delhi" contended by Guha. Thus, political developments in the pre and post-merger period -the transitional phase from monarchy to democracy, produced a serious psychological effect on every sensitive educated youth of the State.


* Dr Priyadarshni M Gangte wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on March 14, 2014

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