IMPHAL: The Manipur Tribals’ Forum for Delimitation (MTFD) has welcomed the constitutional exercise of delimitation in Manipur and said that the tribal population constitutes more than 40 percent of the state population, but only 19 seats in a house of 60 were allotted by the Third Delimitation Commission in 1973. This was in direct violation of Article 332 of the Constitution of India, wherein proportionate representation of the Schedule Tribe population is stipulated.
In a press note, MTFD further said that the fourth delimitation commission, to be carried out on the basis of the 2001 census, was deferred in Manipur on the questionable ground of law and order problem. The deferment in effect meant the perpetuation of the unjust division of representation in the state Legislature and the House of the People. Since statehood was given to Manipur in 1972, the tribal people inhabiting the hills of Manipur were deprived of their fair share in the division of seats in the legislature, it stated.
Consequently, the forum stated, the tribal population of Manipur looked forward to the Fourth Delimitation Commission to make amends to the injustice of the Third Commission.
“In this regard, the several oppositions to the effort of the Government of India to carry out the deferred delimitation exercise in the state are extremely distasteful. It does not inspire the cultivation of fraternal spirit necessary for sustaining the unity of the state. The brazen display of political apathy by the fourteen parties, without consent of members from the hills, bespeaks of a dangerous streak that is self-serving and has scant regard for the principles of natural justice,” added the press note.
The forum built its argument noting that the official census of 2001 has been widely cited by scholars, administrators and policy makers in the country. Therefore, to justify the opposition to the delimitation exercise by asserting that the 2001 census is unreliable, is to call into question the credibility of the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, MHA, Government of India. It also renders invalid the veracity of many research publications and policies that have been based on the 2001 census. It should also be noted that when the delimitation was originally deferred by invoking the Presidential Ordinance of 2008, faulty census was not cited as the main reason, the forum contended.
The MTFD is of the conviction that the “faulty census” argument for the opposition to the Delimitation in Manipur is just a red-herring meant to effectively deny the tribal people their just share of political representation. The MTFD therefore appealed to all rule-following individuals and justice-loving citizens of India to support the deferred Delimitation exercise in the state of Manipur on the basis of the 2001 census. Anything contrary to this would amount to miscarriage of justice and the misrule of law, added the press note.