TODAY -

Reasonable suggestion
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: February 29, 2024 -



CALL it a mere coincidence or just a fluke for anyone critical of the regime to prove their point, but the irony is too glaring for anyone to miss.

On a day when "Modi Sarkar Ki Guarantee", the ad campaign of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections carried on front pages of some newspapers talked about empowering tribals with launch of the Rs 24,000 crore Pradhan Mantri-Janjati Adivasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan (PM-JANMAN) scheme for ensuring holistic development of the PVTGs (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups), some former members of Autonomous District Council (ADC), Ukhrul district as well as Southern Tangkhul Naga Union (STNU) raised serious concern over the non-functioning of many government departments, including Tribal Affairs and Hills, which come under the portfolios allocated to two Kuki ministers for the last many months in Manipur following the outbreak of the ethnic conflict between the Meetei and Kuki-Chin communities on May 3 last year.

Here again, it is hard to tell whether this was a mere coincidence or otherwise, but the former ADC members as well as the chief functionaries of STNU raised the same issue on the same day but in two separate press briefings.

While seeking the intervention of Chief Minister N Biren Singh in resolving the protracted impasse and urging to take up necessary action for ensuring functioning of the now defunct government departments in the interest of the state and its people, the two concerned parties have also made the suggestion of appointing another MLA as the Minister of Tribal Affairs and Hills if the incumbent cannot discharge his constitutionally-mandated duties and responsibilities so that the department could be made functional and the conduct of election to various ADCs in the hill districts of Manipur, which had remained pending for long, could be carried out simultaneously with the Parliamentary elections scheduled to be held sometime in April or May this year.

There is lot of wisdom in the suggestion of appointing a new minister of Tribal Affairs and Hills as the incumbent, Letpao Haokip, who holds the portfolio of not only the Tribal Affairs & Hills Department but also the Horticulture & Soil Conservation Department, has not been able to perform his duty after he and nine other Kuki-Chin legislators banded together in raising the demand for bifurcating Manipur for setting up a separate administration for their own community.

In fact, the same suggestion should apply to Nemcha Kipgen, who remains the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Textiles and Co-operation, despite expressing lack of confidence in the N Biren Singh-led BJP government.

If they feel that the over nine months long ethnic conflict between the Meetei and Kuki-Chin communities is being tacitly supported by the government and they can no longer live in Manipur, then the 10 Kuki-Chin MLAs themselves should have called it quits instead of inexplicably clinging on to their respective posts.

Since Manipur is a multi-ethnic society where the interest of rest of the communities cannot be held for ransom by one community, Chief Minister N Biren Singh should let go of the two Kuki-Chin ministers from his cabinet and appoint some party MLAs in their place.

This is the only way to ensure proper functioning of the different government departments that have remained defunct for so long.

When three legislators belonging to the Kuki-Chin community had been removed and replaced from the chairmanship of different committees of Manipur Legislative Assembly as they could no longer act, it is only reasonable that new ministers be appointed to take over the portfolios of Tribal Affairs and Hills, Horticulture & Soil Conservation, Commerce and Industry, Textiles and Co-operation from the two Kuki-Chin ministers, on whose account so many government departments have become non-functional, thus, affecting the normal day-to-day administrative affairs of the state.



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