Why do Prime Minister of India want Leishemba Sanajaoba to be Rajya Sabha MP of Manipur
- Part 1 -

Dr. Khomdon Lisam *

 Meidingu Leishemba Sanajaoba, the King of Manipur at  Langjing Achouba , February 25 2017
Meidingu Leishemba Sanajaoba, the King of Manipur at Langjing Achouba on February 25 2017

In the early morning of 12 March, 2020 , I was thrilled to see the news headline entitled " Ningthou Sanajaoba has been given BJP ticket with two beautiful coloured photographs in the Sana Leibak Newspaper, I was very excited to see Hon'ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi holding hands of Leishemba Sanajaoba intimately while other national leaders looking on. I shouted for my wife and other family members to come and see the photographs.

After seeing the photographs, my wife and my son commented – this will be very good not only for himself but also for the state. He is the symbol of love, peace and unity for the hill and valley people. Once I asked late Shri Irengbam Tompok, the then Deputy Chief Minister " \Sir – why not you do something for Shri Okendrajit Maharaja by offering him some honourable post'.

He immediately replied " we have considered very seriously about the matter. The problem is that he can not give up alcohol. h\He was taught to drink alcohol right from childhood by influential people who were closed to him for taking maximum benefits. We can see what can we do when his son attain maturity. " now the prophecy of late Shri Irengbam Tompok has been fulfilled.

The decision to nominate the Titular King Leishemba Sanajaoba as a candidate for the Rajya Sabha MP under BJP Government was most probably initiated by the Hon'ble Prime Minister, Narendnra Modi in consultation with shri N. Biren Singh, Chief Minister of Manipur. Immediately, many Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) raised strong objections to the candidature of the Titular King Leishemba Sanajaoba for the post of Rajya Sabha MP .

What are the Core demands and grievances of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) ?

The core demands and grievances of the CSOs are as follows:-

1.The Titular King Leishemba Sanajaoba should abdicate the Titular Kingship before joining the Rajya Sabha .

2.The Titular King Leishemba Sanajaoba should review his decision to contest the Rajya Sabha MP election before the election scheduled on 26 March, 2020.

3.The Titular King Leishemba Sanajaoba can not hold the post of the Titular King and Rajya Sabha MP together at the same time.

4.The people of Manipur have been charging the Government of India for forced merger of Manipur to India since 21 September 1949 till date but the decision of the Titular King Leishemba Sanajaoba to become Rajya Sabha MP may give the impression that the merger of Manipur to India was done with legitimate and proper procedure.

5.The Titular King of Manipur is looked upon as the symbol of love, peace and unity among all the ethnic groups in Manipur. The social status of the Titular King is much higher than that of MP. One may be elected by the people as an MP or MLA but he can not become a King or Titular King.

6.The Titular King is the head of the cultural, traditional, religious, rituals ,customary laws and practices in Manipur both in hills and valley. He is also entitled to enjoy personal rights, privileges, dignities, titles, authority over religious observances, customs usages, rites and ceremonies and institutions in-charge of the same in the State. The Merger Agreement of Manipur signed on 21 September, 1949 specifically mentioned these points.

7.Thousands of young people including militant groups sacrificed their lives to achieve independence of Manipur and to protect the culture, tradition, language of Manipur which are under the domain of the Titular King. It will be impossible to safeguard these without the support of the Titular King.

8.Many Civil Society Organisations, Meira Paibees and Women Groups spent sleepless nights at the Sana Konung (Royal Palace) to protect the Sana Konung from possible eviction of the Titular King because of the Cabinet Decision on 11 July, 2013, to acquire the royal palace to make it a museum and tourist spot. by taking the advantage of the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 (18, march 1904).

What would have been the status of the existing Ttular King of Manipur, whose residence so called ‘chonga bon' be taken over by state government ?. The then Chief Minister offered to make an alternative land and building for Leishemba Sanajaoba. The then Chief Minister said that the palace building is very old and require refurbishment.. Leisemba Sanajaoba went to hunger strike which was joined by Supporters, CSOs, Meira Paibee Lups and local people.

More than 220 Tangkhul Village Chiefs of Ukhrul came to Sana Konung and joined the protest against the cabinet decision for take-over of the Sana Konung. According to them, the Sana Konung is the reflection of age-old ties among various communities of Manipur .

Later on, the Manipur State Council under Leishemba Sanajaoba wrote a letter to the Union Home Minister mentioning the rights given to the Maharaja in the merger agreement of 21 september 1949 and to stop the process of eviction against the titular king. . Immediately the Union Home Minister asked shri Ibobi singh, Chief Minister to stop the action. Then the then Chief Minister withdraw his proposal.

9.Leishemba Sanajaoba carried out the duties and functions of the Ttular King very well up to the satisfaction of the people from 1996 till date, There is no complain against Leishemba Sanajaoba during 1996 -2020

10.The CSOs do not have any objection to his becoming Rajya Sabha MP but he should abdicate the post of Titular King forthwith before he joins the Rajya Sabha as an MP

11.The Tangkhul Chiefs Association and many village authorities expressed unconditional support and happiness over Titular King Leishemba Sanajaoba becoming an MP of Rajya Sabha. They mentioned that the decision is a right decision and will bring unity among all ethnic groups in Manipur.

Shri Narendra Modi also nominated the former Chief Justice of India Shri Ranjan Gogoi from Assam as a Rajya Sabha MP. His Oath taking ceremony was performed on 19 March, 2020 He had also offered the post of Rajya Sabha MP to Jyotiraditya Scindia (born on 1 january, 1971 ) s/o Madhav Rao Scndia, whose family once ruled Gwalior, a congress MP representing Guna constituency in Madhya Pradesh since May 2004. on his joining BJP.

Before we go further let us have a short visit of our history:-

Manipur is a native state with a written history from 1445 BCE to 1949 CE while all other states of India are created states except Tripura. Manipur had all the basic requirements of a kingdom such as kingship, a capital or seat of power, an administrative set-up, a territory with well defined boundary including regional principalities, rules, regulations and laws of the land which guide governance, courts of justice, revenue and administrative division of the kingdom in the form of provinces, districts, counties, boroughs etc., hierarchy of nobles and officials, an army to defend the kingdom or to attack neighbouring countries for annexation, coinage including golg coins for trade and commerce, literature, language, script and culture indicating civilization, a recorded history for future generations and so on..

The British Parliament, South East Asia Kingdoms and neighbouring Kingdom like Burma (now Myanmar), Assam Tripura recognised it.

After defeat in the 1891 Anglo-Manipur war, the British political agent declared Churachand as the a King of Manipur on 12th Langban, 1891(September). His date of birth was 12 May, 1883. The investiture ceremony was held on 29th April, 1892 ( Friday) at 4.30 p.m in presence of about 8000 people with the 43rd Gurkhas presenting the guard of honour and 11 gun salute. All the Chiefs from hills and valley were required to give their allegiance to the Raja.

The administration of Manipur was handed over to Raja Churachand on 15 May, 1907 at the age of 24 years. He inaugurated the new palace building (present building ) in 1908. He was assisted in his administration by a state durbar comprising of eight durbar members. ,Maharaja Churachand died on 17th Hiyangei (16th November, Thursday) 1941 at 9.20 p.m. at Nabadwip, West Bengal . ( Sarangthem Bormani Singh , Meitei Mingthourol , 2000)

After the death of Maharaja Churachand, his eldest son Bodhachandra became the King of Manipur with Ishori Devi, the princess of Nepal as Leima or Maharani on 18th Hiyangei , 1941(Friday) ( 21 November, 1941) . He had inherited all the political and social problems which started during Churachand's time.

On 1 January, 1947, the Manipur State Constitution Act-1947 was passed ( Manipur Sstate Gazette dated 2 January,1947) on 1 July, 1947, the Manipur State Durbar which was established in 1907 was abolished and it was named as Manipur State Council. On 11 August, 1947, Maharaja Bodhchandra signed the Instrument Of Accession and the Standstill Agreement. as per Manipur State Constitution Act-1947, the Maharaja of Manipur became the constitutional head.

on the night of 14th August , 1947 at 12 p.m., Mr. Gerald Pakenham Stewart informed Maharaja Bodhachandra that the paramountcy of British rule in India had come to an end and India became independent from that particular moment.

On 28th August (Thawan), 1947 CE (Thursday) at 12 midnight , The sovereignty of Manipur was declared by the political Agent Mr. Gerald Pakenham Stewart, ICS and he handed over Manipur to Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh.. The Maharaja entered Kangla at Imphal and hoisted the national flag of Manipur bearing the Pakhangba Flag. top-guns were fired 18 times by Ahongsangbam Bidhu, top major in honour of the sovereign kingdom in the presence of a large crowd. ( Sarangthem Bormani- Meitei Ningthourol , 2nd edition, 2000 ).

As per Manipur State Constitution Act (MSCA)-1947, on 11 and 18 June, 1948, election were held in the valley areas and on 26 and 27th July, elections were held in the hill areas to elect 53 people's representatives of the Manipur's first State Legislative Assembly. on 26 November, 1948 a coalition democratic Government was formed as no party could secure an absolute majority .

Thus Manipur was having constitution on 1 January, 1947 while India was having constitution on 26 January, 1950. Manipur was having democracy on 26 November, 1948 while India was having democracy with the having of Lok Sabha on 17 april,1952. Manipur was having an history of a nation from 1445 BCE to 26 November, 1948 while India is having history of a nation only with effect from 15 August, 1947 till date.

Bodhchandra Maharaja died on 26th of Hiyangei, 1955 CE. (Friday/ November ) at 9 a.m. his first son Okendrajit became the Maharaja of Manipur . Okendrajit was recognized by the President of India as the Maharaja of Manipur on the 9th December, 1955 .He was only four years old when he became the King of Manipur. Shri M.K. Priyobarta was appointed as the regent of the King .Another name of Okendrajit was Pareihanba.

With the abolition of Privy Purses in 1972 during Indira Gandhi's time, all the privileges and Privy Purses (financial grants) to the Maharaja were withdrawn by the Government of India. Okendrajit lived like a common man.

On 23 April ,1992, Okendrajit Sana declared that " I open the Lubak Tabu and abandon Hinduism as state religion and recognition is hereby withdrawn from the royal customary law of the country, Instead the royal customary law revives the Lainingthouism as the state religion and do hereby given recognition as state religion".

He became a very poor maharaja. Nobody bother about him. He wrote a 26 page book entitled "Pareihanba Elong "-published on 23rd April, 1992. Okendrajit was the last King of Manipur recognised by the Government of India. He died on 5th August, 1996 at the Manipur Palace and cremated at Kangla..

After the death of Okendrajit , his first son Leishemba Sanajaoba became the titular king. He continue to look after the culture, tradition, religion, ceremonies and festivals of Manipur. He continue to perform all the palace functions to safeguard the culture, traditions and customary rituals of Manipur for both the hills and valley of Manipur.

There is no /post of the Titular King under the Government of India or the Manipur State Government. In fact, there is no provision of king or Titular King under the Indian Constitution. There is no customary law except the Manipur State Constitution Act (MSCA ) -1947 . This Act is not yet repealed by any authority. It is therefore a living constitution.

Declaration of Manipur Government in Exile in London

On 29 October, 2019 , shri Yamben Biren, claiming to be the "Chief Minister of Manipur State Council" and Narengbam Samarjit, claiming to be the "Minister of External Affairs and Defence of Manipur State Council" said they were speaking on behalf of the ‘Maharaja of Manipur, shri Leishemba Sanajaoba ' to formally launch the Manipur Government-in-Exile― "the Manipur State Council".

They said that the exiled government in London would push for recognition of independent Manipur by the United Nations. They declared "We will run the de jure exiled Government here ... from today onwards," They read aloud. "We will seek recognition from different nations ... to become a member of the United Nations. We hope many of the countries will recognise our independence."

However, the King of Manipur, Leishemba Sanajaoba has reportedly distanced himself from their statement. The hot news was published in all newspaper in Manipur. One militant organisation called Prepak expressed support to the government in exile in London. Apart from Prepak, no other militant group expressed moral support to the launching of the Manipur Government in Exile in London.

There is a deafening silence on the part of CSOs in Manipur regarding the launching of the Manipur Government in Exile in London. The demands of the militant groups and the demands of the Manipur Government in Exile are the same- independence.

The government of india will feel extremely humiliated if Her Majesty's Privy Council admit the petition. The humiliation of the Government will be multiplied many times if decision of the Her Majesty's Privy Ccouncil comes out in favour of Manipur. The strategy adopted while launching the Government in Exile is a legal fight –not an illegal approach.

People are asking the question why do the CSOs are so over active in case of Leishemba Sanajaoba' s candidature for MP while they are maintaining silence in case of formation of Manipur Government in Exile. However, Shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister may be quite aware and foresee the likely consequences if the decision comes in favour of Manipur.

To be continued...

* Dr. Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for
The writer is Former Medical Superintendent , JNIMS, Ex-Consultant, NACO, Ex-Project Director (MACS) and can be contacted at khomdon(DOT)lisam(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on March 24 2020.

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