Imphal: Manipur’s veteran politician and former minister Okram Joy Singh has warned that the proposed delimitation exercise by the Central government in the four northeastern states won’t be in consonance with the ground reality as also with the aspiration of the general public. He also contended that it will have a serious repercussion, especially in Manipur, if it is based on the population of 2001 Census.
His statement came at a time when the Central government announced on February 28 the process of fresh delimitation of Assembly seats as well as readjustment of boundaries of Parliamentary constituencies in the four Northeastern states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
Speaking to The North East Affairs, the seven-time MLA from the Langthabal Assembly constituency and a former associate member of the Delimitation Commission, said that deferment of delimitation exercise for each state was based on different issues and reasons, however, for Manipur it was mainly due to highly abnormal population growth rates in comparison with the rest of the country in the three hill districts of Manipur, namely Senapati, Ukhrul and Chandel.
Explaining further, O Joy said the abnormal growth rate was seen in three divisions of Senapati, especially Mao-Maram, Paomata and Purul during the Census of 2001 and 2011. The same unusual growth was also witnessed in the four divisions of Chandel district, namely, Machi, Tengnoupal, Chandel and Chakpikarong and a few divisions in Ukhrul district.
Following this, he said, there was a serious discussion of associate members with the officials and central ministers including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, then Home Minister Pranab Mukherjee, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Centre had finally agreed to postpone the exercise. The only person who vehemently objected to the decision was the former MP, Mani Charenameii of the outer Lok Sabha constituency.
O Joy also recalled the time how census officials, who visited those areas to rectify the figures of 2001 census, no one came out. Following which an anticipated figure was added in the 2011 census. According to him, the logical situation would have been an increase in the number of general seats where there is no prohibition in anyone from any part of the state settling rather than in the hills where only scheduled tribes are allowed to settle down. The former lawmaker said if the delimitation exercise is carried out without rectifying the 2001 Census figures of Ukhrul, Senapati and Chandel which saw an unusually high population growth, three seats in the valley would be lost and will be added to the hills, which is illogical.
When asked about the memorandum submitted to the officials of the Delimitation Commission by an NGO based in Kakching district on the inclusion of eight constituencies of the valley in outer Parliamentary constituency, which allows the voters residing there to exercise their franchise but are denied the right to contest election, O Joy said the present exercise won’t bring about any change in the status quo, that is they can vote but cannot contest elections.
Stating that they have been a ‘third-class citizens’ for the last 68 years, MP Candidature Demand Committee, Manipur, a Kakching based organisation in March this year submitted a memo to the Delimitation Commission, requesting it to look into the grievances of over 2.5 lakh citizens who are currently included in II-Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency. The eight Assembly constituencies are: 33-Heirok, 34-Wangjing Tentha, 35-Khangabok, 36-Wabagai, 37-Kakching, 38-Hiyanglam, 39-Sugnu, and 40-Jiribam.