Imphal: The All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) on Friday has criticized the attempts by the chairmen of four ADCs for further extension of their terms by another six months, terming it as shameless attempt to disenfranchise the people for whom they are supposed to serve honourably.
ATSUM stated during a press meet held at its office at Adimjati, Chingmeirong, that withholding of ADCs elections on the pretext of Covid-19 pandemic is a mockery of the reality and an irrational contention. The union gave its opinion that it will be in the best interest of all to dissolve the present ADCs in November 2020 and call for fresh elections at the earliest. ATSUM forewarned that failing to pay heed to its demand will not be unacceptable and the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) and state government should be held accountable for any eventuality that may arise in the coming days.
Addressing the press meet, General Secretary of ATSUM S.R. Andria stated that the union was astonished and disturbed with the selfish acts of the chairmen of the four Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) namely Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Kangpokpi and Chandel districts for having approached the Chairman of Hills Areas Committee, Manipur through representation dated September 29, 2020 for extension of terms of office of all members of ADCs by another months after November, 2020.
He further stated that the chairmen had already taken a pre-emptive decision on July 21, 2020 to extend their term for the second time with a sole motive of meeting their personal whims.
“They are abusing their chairs to say the least. Their 5 year term expired on June 1, 2020 according to the Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act. 1971,” the general secretary said.
The ADC chairmen’s contention that State Election Commission (ECI) writing to the Tribal Affairs & Hills seeking permission to conduct election without the ‘prior opinion’ of the HAC is a politics of convenience defeat other provisions and cited some for their vested interest. The ADCs Chairman’s enlisted “activities related to agriculture, harvest, festivals and other social programs” as viable reasons for not holding the ADCs elections in November which is ridiculous. In June-July it is rainy so they did not want to have elections during the monsoon. Now they don’t want elections in November because it is a harvest. When do we, hill people of Manipur, don’t have activities related to agriculture’? It is true that we are reeling under the dreadful pandemic, he added.
However, for effective governance to deal with all these problems we need to have mandated representatives according to the law. Importantly, ECI had already announced the conduct of by-election to the two Assembly Constituencies of Lilong and Wangjing- Tentha in the state of Manipur. As such, the withholding of ADCs election on the pretext of Covid-19 pandemics is mockery of prevalent rules and irrational.
It is very unfortunate to cite that the first extension of the incumbent ADC term was initiated with the recommendation of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC), Manipur on January 16, 2020. Rainy season was deliberately misinterpreted by HAC as an administrative problem and thus recommended the state Election Commission to hold ADC elections in dry seasons preferably in the month of November 2020. Subsequently, the state cabinet on the recommendation of the HAC extended the term of the office of all members of the six ADCs without valid reason which is demeaning the democratic grass root institution of the state. Consequent upon the cabinet decision dated the March 3, 202, the additional Chief Secretary, TA & H, Government of Manipur vide its order No. 7/1/2019 Hills (ADC/ELEC) extended the term of office of all Members of the ADCs, Manipur by a period of six months w.e.f 01-06-2020 and elections to be held in the intervening month of October and November 2020, said S.R Andria
The ECI is already in the process of conducting State Assembly elections in Bihar and to the 65 vacant posts in the state assembly constituencies by announcing by-elections despite the request of the states to withhold elections. Therefore, it will be in the best interest of all to dissolve the present ADCs in November 2020 and call for fresh elections at the earliest, Andria stated. Failure to disregard the appeal of ATSUM, will make the HAC and state government liable to be held accountable for any eventualities that may arise in coming days, the union warned.