TODAY -

More teeth to ST for Meiteis demand : Make it a poll issue
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: December 04 2023 -



Now is perhaps the time for the ‘ST for Meiteis’ champions, particularly the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur (STDCM), the World Meetei Council (WMC) Meitei/Meetei Tribe Union (MTU), the Kangleipak Kanba Lup (KKL) and others who back the demand to try and see how to make this a crucial issue in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), the Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU), the Kuki Inpi, Manipur (KIM) and obviously the All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur continue to sell the false story that the May 3 rally was staged against this demand, but all concerned knows that this was nothing but the first lie on which foundation the May 3 rally was staged and which led to the eruption of one the ugliest ethnic clashes Manipur has seen to date.

A false premise it is and the world knows it, and this could be all the more reason to raise the ST for Meiteis demand a notch or two or three higher.

Long before ATSUM staged the now infamous Tribal Solidarity March of May 3, 2023, the demand that the Meiteis be included in the ST list of the Constitution of India has been there with the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs asking the State Government to send the socio-economic report of the Meiteis for inclusion in the ST list.

For ten long years the State Government slept over the matter and there is no reason anymore for Imphal to continue with its afternoon siesta over the matter.

Acting on the communication from the Union Tribal Ministry and on the application moved by the Meitei/Meetei Tribe Union, the High Court of Manipur merely asked the State Government to send the needed report, as sought by the Centre.

That ATSUM preferred to interpret this in a way which suits their narrative and for which the May 3 rally was staged and how the current clash erupted from that day is there for one and all to see, but the more important point at the moment is how to make the ST for Meiteis demand one of the more important issues in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Time is still with the more vocal ST advocates and this is now the right time for the different organisations working towards this to chalk out a common frame and see how they can go about making the issue ring a loud, clear bell.

Remember the immense positive response the STDCM received when it individually called upon the different sitting MLAs and sought their support.

Now is perhaps the time to take that campaign a notch or two higher and see how to make it one of the more prominent issues in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Reach out to the major political parties, particularly the big two-Congress and BJP-and see how things progress from there.

Time for the voters to look beyond the election freebies and see which party and candidate talk about issues which concern the future and fate of the Meitei people.

And obviously the demand that the Meiteis be included in the ST list of the Constitution of India is an important, in fact the most important issue.

Time is with the ST for Meiteis votaries, but this should not mean putting things off till the last minute. Start reaching out to the different political parties now.

See which party is in line with the demand and which party is not.

On this line, the STDCM, the MTU, WMC, KKL etc may also canvass for candidates and political parties, on the basis of where they stand on the ST for Meiteis demand.

The task at hand may appear mammoth, but one here is talking about the future of a group of people, who are indigenous to the land.

This is not the first time that The Sangai Express has put across this suggestion and idea and a look back to the run up to the Assembly elections of 2022 should testify this.

That the ST for Meiteis demand did not figure as a poll issue is there for everyone to see but this should not be repeated this time.

Not when the issue was used and abused to ignite one of the worst ethnic clashes in Manipur and under which thousands have been displaced, hundreds killed and many missing.

The time to give a further push to the ST demand is now and voting time is the period when the power is actually in the hands of the people.

Time to wield this power in a positive way and act accordingly.

This is not for any freebies or personal gain, but about the future of the Meiteis as an indigenous people of the land.



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