Manipur’s Naga MLAs seek new Tribal Affairs Minister

The current Minister is the BJP’s Letpao Haokip, who belongs to the Kuki-Zo group

February 28, 2024 11:30 pm | Updated February 29, 2024 02:26 am IST - Guwahati

BJP leaders Bhupender Yadav (centre) and Sambit Patra (left) greet leader of National People’s Party of Manipur Letpao Haokip at the BJP headquarters. File

BJP leaders Bhupender Yadav (centre) and Sambit Patra (left) greet leader of National People’s Party of Manipur Letpao Haokip at the BJP headquarters. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Manipur’s Naga MLAs have asked Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh to appoint a new Minister for the Tribal Affairs and Hills Development Department “rendered defunct due to the absence” of incumbent Letpao Haokip.

Manipur has 20 Assembly constituencies reserved for Scheduled Tribes. Ten are represented by the Nagas and the other 10 by those belonging to the Kuki-Zo community. People from the Kuki-Zo community have been caught in an ethnic conflict with the non-tribal Meiteis since May 2023.

Mr. Haokip, a Bharatiya Janata Party MLA, belongs to the Kuki-Zo group.

In a joint letter submitted to the Chief Minister on Wednesday, the Naga MLAs said the people have been facing difficulties due to the prevailing unrest in the State.

“In this hour of crisis, we would like to appeal you to kindly look into the matter of the functioning of Tribal Affairs and Hills Department which has been rendered defunct due to absence of the Hon’ble Minister of Tribal Affairs and Hills, Government of Manipur for the last 10 months,” the letter read.

The Naga MLAs said the department “is becoming more crucial in this hour of crisis to look after the needs and development of tribals and the hill areas to bring overall peace and progress” in the State.

“Therefore, we would like to request you to appoint (a) new Tribal Affairs and Hills Minister in charge to look after the affairs of tribals and hills efficiently and effectively,” they wrote.

Seven of the 10 Kuki-Zo MLAs are from the ruling BJP. They left the Meitei-majority Imphal Valley soon after the ethnic violence broke out on May 3, 2023. They said Imphal had become a “valley of death”.

Of the 10 Naga MLAs, five are from the Naga People’s Front and two are from the National People’s Party – both members of the BJP-headed NDA. Two belong to the BJP and one is an Independent.

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