Manipur, Nagaland join anti-delimitation chorus

Various organisations and political parties in Manipur and Nagaland have joined their counterparts in Assam to oppose the notified exercise for the delimitation of electoral constituencies in some north-eastern states.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) and CPI (Marxist) filed a contempt petition at the High Court of Manipur against the Ministry of Home Affairs, Director of Census Operations and the Delimitation Commissioner of India for “wilfully, deliberately and intentionally disobeying” a 2007 judgement of the Gauhati High Court against the method applied for the exercise.

Manipur used to be covered by the Gauhati HC until the HC of Manipur was established in March 2013.

5-point resolution

Representatives of 16 political parties in Manipur, including the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, met in State capital Imphal on June 16 to unanimously oppose the delimitation exercise. They adopted a five-point resolution to fight delimitation politically and legally.

The Centre had on February 28 issued the notification for delimitation on the basis of the 2001 census. The exercise following a similar notification in February 2008 was deferred because of concerns over the law and order scenario in the northeast.

While political parties and NGOs in Manipur claim that the 2001 census was faulty, those in adjoining Nagaland want the 23-year-old “Naga political issue” to be settled first before delimitation is undertaken.

The issue pertains to the peace talks with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim, also known as the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland, that is awaiting a “honourable solution” since mid-1997. Seven other factions joined the peace process later on.

The apex bodies of 11 tribes in Nagaland wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 16, asserting that solving the protracted Naga political issue was more important than delimitation. “The exercise now would be futile as there will be delimitation again after the finalisation of the peace process,” the tribal organisations said.

Joint statement

But a few groups in Nagaland have resolved to support the “long-felt need” for delimitation. They included organisations of the Zeme, Liangmai, Rongmei and Kuki communities in the State’s Peren district.

“Our stand does not mean the people of Peren are against the Naga solution. While the talks are in process, the flow of justice and equal representation of people... should be allowed to take place,” the organisations said in a joint statement.

In Assam, the Congress, All India United Democratic Front and other political parties as well as social NGOs have been opposing the delimitation move. Their contention is that the exercise is untimely because of the pending updation of the National Register of Citizens and the anxiety caused by the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

‘Interest of indigenous’

The BJP-led Assam government wants the redrawing of the Assembly constituencies in the “interest of the indigenous people of the State and unless it is carried out, they would remain vulnerable”. Assam has 126 Assembly seats, at least 35 of which are dominated by Bengal-origin Muslims, many of whom are seen as people of doubtful citizenship.

“The delimitation exercise should be carried so that 110 seats are for the indigenous people. There should be not any addition to the existing number of constituencies, but the focus of delimitation should be on the protection of the political rights of the native people of Assam,” Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said after the notification.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 5:06:52 PM |

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