"Aphababu Oiragadi, Atoppada Shokloidaba Oiragadi...."

SK Singh *

 STDCM : Matter already raised before PM earlier, response positive, claims Biswajit
STDCM : Matter already raised before PM earlier, response positive, claims Biswajit :: Pix - TSE

The Sangai Express daily of Nov 4 carried a news item, where the Power Minister Th Biswajeet reportedly observed, "Meeyamgi Phanaba Toubada Yaroidaba Leite". The occasion was the visit of members of STDCM to the residence of the Minister as part of their program of pressurizing VIPs to support the ongoing demand of enlisting the Meiteis/Meeteis in the list of ST of the country.

The Committee had been in the news for series of sit-in protests in different corners of the state during the last more than a month this time. They had been on the news for the last 8-9 years. Now as part of their home-visit of 'important-persons-approach' to seek support to their demand, they are now in the stage of visiting dignitaries at their residences.

This time around, the Committee knocked the doors of the Power Minister to seek the support of the Minister to the demand. The Minister, as is their normal practice, pacified the Committee members by recalling his own commitment to the cause when he had an audience with the PM, the Home Minister, the Defense Minister in the past when this issue was raised.

According to Biswajeet, the response from these Central Ministers was very positive. Asserting their positivity Biswajeet recalled that they nodded to the demand and observed that, if other sections of the society won't be affected, these can be acceded to.

The visiting members of the STDCM were visibly pleased with this tailored response demonstrated on the face of it his own positivity to the issue, thanked the Power Minister profusely and urged him, all beaming to the full, to continue support.

This 'positivity', this 'aphababu oiragadi….', reminds me of an anecdote where three different persons, were compared or contrasted from their points of view on certain given situations. The three were, i) a Diplomat, ii) a Girl and iii) an Army Officer. These three have very contrasting positivity to a given situation and yet each of them is only right. First let us see the case of a Diplomat.

A Diplomat by profession, is tactful, careful and cannot say, 'No' to anything, more practically to his counterpart Diplomat of another country. If by sheer chance, he says 'No', he is not a Diplomat. He may say, 'May Be', which literally translates into, in diplomatic terminology, 'No'. In similar string, if he says, 'Yes', it just only means, 'May Be', nothing more but could be even less.

A Girl, on the other hand, cannot say, 'Yes' to any proposal to her, say from her suitor. She may play safe, protect her femininity, her dignity and say, 'No' which literally means, 'May Be'. If she says, 'May Be' it just means, 'Yes'. The suitor can go ahead without losing much time.

For an army officer on the other hand, there is no word called, 'May Be'. For him, 'Yes' means 'Yes' and 'No' means 'No', nothing less nothing more. If he says, 'May Be' by the slip of the tongue, he cannot a member of the armed forces; sooner than later, he may be sacked.

In the present case at hand, of STDCM meeting Power Minister, the Minister too acted like an Envoy, a Diplomat. After all Ministers play a safe stand, cannot afford refrain from his voters, his people. He has too, work and act with the sole aim of pleasing the people whoever approaches him. He cannot utter, the dreadful word, 'No', or 'impossible'.

His whole goal is only to please those in front of him by demonstrating his wit and desire to come to their assistance, however absurd it may be. He has too, act like an Envoy, a Diplomat whose password is 'Yes' or 'May Be', never 'No'. His recalling meetings with PM, HM where they perhaps referred to the ongoing public outcry with the demand for ST by the majority community, is only opportunistic.

The PM or HM too like a matured Diplomat had to talk positively but laced with this clause or that. They cannot say 'No' on the face of any proposal even informal, would always be positive. Our Ministers too have to act diplomatically, cannot just commit on the face of it. And that is what has happened in this meeting of the STDCM and the Power Minister.

Given my own personal exposure to high level meetings between a Chief Minister of a state and the Home Minister of the Union Government or even with the Prime Minister, the stated side-sharing of ideas on the demand for ST, is a suspect.

In such top level meetings where tense atmosphere prevails most often and where the Chief Minister or a Cabinet Minister faces the enormity of a PM or even his HM, digression from the slated topic or subject is doubly doubtful.

This is all the more probable more now, then any time before, given the air of superiority hanging plus the enormity of personality exhibited by the present PM or even more with his HM. Interpolation of other issues even remotely related to the slated subject under discussion, however light in tone, even when tea, is highly doubtful.

We have however to rest content with what our Ministers share. Surely he could have referred the present issue of demand for ST by the Meiteis/Meeteis, in one of the several audiences they had with the central leaders as claimed.

The important question is what then should emanate from their side to the issue under consideration. Should they reinforce the cause of the movement, the justification if any, for such a proposal or rest satisfied with the status-quo as is the case now?

The more fruitful exercise should have been somewhat on the following lines:-
i) What are the principal criteria fixed by the government of India?
ii) Do the Meiteis/Meeteis meet or satisfy, if not all, at least some of these?
iii) What are the documents asked for by the government of India?
iv) Has the government of Manipur got these documents prepared?
v) If not, as is the case now, can the Manipur government be pressurized to get these prepared without further delay?
vi) Does the government realize that preparation of these two documents, doesn't, in any way, ensure that the Meeteis/Meiteis would get classified as ST?
vii) Why not initiate a dialogue with the other groups who are not keen to see the Meeteis/Meiteis get enlisted as ST? Who will bell the cat here?
viii) Is it worth the effort merely asking the government to send 'Recommendation'?
ix) Why they fail to understand that even for the government to recommend the case, they need these two documents to base upon, if this community satisfies the principal criteria?

I strongly believe that the present approach wouldn't reach us to anywhere near the ultimate goal.

* SK Singh wrote this article for
The writer can be reached at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on November 11 2022 .

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