Apropos to the letter to the editor by RG Lyngdoh, (ST Sep 10, 2013) regarding the ILP, I would like to state here that although the intentions of the writer are good but his criticism of the Opposition is totally uncalled for and unjustified. I would like to remind the learned writer that we the MPF as the principal Opposition had written in the month of July to the Chief Minister, the Speaker and the Hon’ble Governor to request the Government to convene a Special Session of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly to discuss these very problems much before the issue of ILP had come to this boiling point. Unfortunately, the Government did not respond to our request apart from few statements made to the Press wherein the Chief Minister rejected the need for a Special Session. Apart from influx and illegal immigration, the issue of the Interstate boundary problem with Assam has also been raised by the Opposition. I wish to draw your attention to the meeting between the UDP youth wing and the Home Minister on the interstate boundary issue on June 28 to apprise her about the problems faced by the villagers in the interstate border areas.
Then on July 29, Mr. Paul Lyngdoh led a delegation, which visited Sabuda village to assess the situation resulting from the atrocities of the Assam Police on the villagers of Sabuda.
Another constituent of the MPF, the National People’s Party (NPP) also adopted a Resolution in support of the implementation of the ILP in the State in a meeting of its State Executive Committee held on the July 12. The MPF also attended the all-party meet called by the Government to discuss the current stalemate regarding the ILP.
One fails to understand which part of our action is perceived as silence and inactivity? Let me iterate here that we, as an Opposition, have not been mute spectators. We have been actively pursuing this matter and will continue doing so especially during the forthcoming Autumn Session of the Meghalaya Assembly.
Meghalaya People’s Front (MPF)
Harmony of pots and pans
The recent contention of Manas Chaudhuri pertaining to distribution of pots and pans is on target and has been an issue of criticism for long. The subject reminds us of the the infamous story of a poor household in the outskirts of the city which had a scuffle about which of the two, among the middle aged couple should have the larger share of the blanket distributed by a certain MLA. Or the story of musical chairs every morning with two chairs for a family of seven members. The basic idea is to sustain the “thirst” and “need” and ensure that the public representative continues as a patron of the poor. Providing fish and bread crumbs instead of teaching the art of fishing and cooking is what MLAs have done over decades. Scores of ambulances and other utility vehicles move around the state advertising in bold letters that the same is donated by the MP/MLA. The money used to buy these utilities is not from the MLA’s personal pocket. It is public money, meaning the people’s own money. It is time to review the MLA scheme and have a public debate whether such funds have any inclusive societal impact. Manas Chaudhuri must have been among the few legislators who provided consolidated public information regarding the schemes and their execution. The majority of legislators do not even do that. They connive and conceal and target the transparent.
ILP and problem of influx
The ILP as the mechanism to tackle the problem of influx in the state is the burning issue in Meghalaya right now. Many talks, forums, debates and discussions had been conducted by different organisations on it and enough media coverage had been given for public interest on the same. Concerned and learned individuals had shared their views either for or against it both through print and electronic media. Facing pressure from civil society to implement it, the Government had called an all-party meeting on the issue on September 6, last but it ended without any unanimous decision. While the Government is adamant about not implementing the ILP, the NGOs too are intransigent and seem determined to go all out this time with a ‘now or never’ attitude. As long as the Government and the civil society are locking horns on the ILP, it is we the people who will be adversely affected by bandhs, picketing, road blockades called by the NGOs on account of the ILP. My question is why can’t the Government convene a special session on the ILP in the House and put it to vote? Why did Government call an all party meeting outside the legislature? The legislature is the best platform to discuss and debate on the ILP and to put it to vote. It is in such discussions that the possibilities and impossibilities of the ILP can be taken up. It is through a wise discussion that a wise decision can be arrived at. If the legislature fails to respond to people’s needs then civil society uprising is inevitable. If the legislators feel that they can do whatever they like because they won the mandate from the people then I should call them ‘elected dictators’. We don’t want to see casualties in the society but peace. As of now many of the tribal people in Meghalaya don’t want a ‘melting pot’ society but rather a ‘salad bowl’ unity in the Indian society.
Shillong – 04