Home » Will the 10 Kuki-Zo MLAs be content with supporting the ITLF’s call for a Union Territory (UT) with a legislature?

Will the 10 Kuki-Zo MLAs be content with supporting the ITLF’s call for a Union Territory (UT) with a legislature?

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 3 minutes read
Will the 10 Kuki-Zo MLAs be content with supporting the ITLF’s call for a Union Territory (UT) with a legislature?

As of now, ten Kuki-Zo MLAs remain integral parts of the Manipur government, with two of them holding ministerial positions. Having served as MLAs and ministers for a considerable duration, the question arises: will they willingly support the ITLF’s demand for a UT with a legislature?
The demand put forth by the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum (ITLF) for the creation of a Union Territory with a legislature for the Kuki-Zo areas in Manipur raises intriguing questions about the underlying motivations and implications. While the ITLF portrays this demand as a means to achieve greater self-governance, political representation, and socio-economic empowerment, a deeper examination suggests a more nuanced perspective.
The ITLF’s demand, as evidenced by their nine-point resolution, wherein they express intent to seek political assistance from Mizoram while advocating for a Union Territory with a legislature, diverges from the initial buzz over Greater Mizoram or a separate state. The decision to abandon the pursuit of Greater Mizoram may signify a pragmatic acknowledgment of the complexities involved. While some may perceive this shift as a lack of ambition, it’s important to recognize that the demand for a Union Territory with a legislature signifies a nuanced pursuit of partial statehood. Despite not equating to full statehood, this designation holds significant implications for governance, autonomy, and political representation.
One possible explanation lies in the complex socio-political landscape of the region. The failure to establish effective economic, and political linkages with neighboring states, such as Mizoram, may have contributed to the perceived need for alternative avenues for representation and governance. The demand for greater Mizoram, which surfaced initially, may have faced challenges due to differences in social structure and governance practices between the Kuki-Zo in Manipur and the Mizos in Mizoram. Incorporating additional territories into Mizoram could potentially disrupt the existing governance structure, particularly if traditional chieftainship practices are maintained. The Kuki-Zo community’s landholding system, rooted in chieftainship, often necessitates the frequent establishment of new villages, potentially leading to conflicts with other tribes within Mizoram. Consequently, any demand for greater Mizoram would likely require the relinquishment of chieftaincy powers by Kuki-Zo leaders, posing significant challenges to their leadership dynamics.
However, it should not be forgotten that a Union Territory (UT) in India operates under direct control and administration by the Central Government, with limited autonomy compared to states. Despite having legislative assemblies in some cases such as Delhi and Pondicherry, the final decision-making authority often rests with the Lieutenant Governor appointed by the Centre. This arrangement contrasts sharply with the federal relationship enjoyed by states, where greater autonomy and legislative powers are vested in elected governments.
The apparent contradiction arises from the discrepancy between ITLF’s stated goal of greater autonomy and the actual implications of Union Territory status. The question then arises: why would the ITLF advocate for a political status that inherently offers lesser autonomy and self-governance than full statehood? Why would they opt for lesser autonomy as a Union Territory with a legislature when they previously enjoyed greater autonomy as part of the legislative assembly of Manipur?
With representation through ten members in the assembly and ministerial positions in the cabinet, coupled with their armed group under suspension of operations exerting control over significant territories surrounding the valley, the decision seems counterintuitive. Their demand could be understood from a desire to distance themselves from Manipur’s majority Meitei assembly, where they feel their interests are not adequately represented. However, their willingness to sacrifice certain rights and the power of adult franchise under the direct rule of the President of India, under UT with a legislature, raises questions about the rationale behind their decision. Despite having the semblance of self-governance with a legislature, they recognize that they would wield less power compared to the state legislature and MLAs in making laws governing their own affairs. This apparent contradiction in their approach prompts further scrutiny into the factors shaping their decision-making process.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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