Separate voters’ list for ACs: Need of the hour

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“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.”

– Theodore Roosevelt


With people migrating within the country and influx from Bangladesh one can no longer be sure of one’s security as an indigenous in a given place in the country, particularly in the Northeast. In India the areas domiciled by indigenous people are characterised by fertile land and abundant flora, fauna and mineral resources. The lands of the indigenous people are also sparsely populated and the people are backward. With education and time the communities in northeast has begun to ask questions and demand their rights. At times led by political parties and at times led by social organisations. The creation of Autonomous Council is a process to protect the way of life, land and custom of the hill tribe people of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao.

However, as time passes the hill tribals realised that the local self government (in the form of Autonomous Council) set up in 1952 is not enough. Due to lack of foresight of the leaders as well as the soft approach of the tribal leaders the right to vote in the Autonomous Council election has been left with no clear rule and regulation. As a result anyone who is even in the district temporarily to do petty trading they are now voting in the election to the local government in the form of Autonomous Council. So, the result is that as more and more from outside the district enter for various purposes including trade and commerce, for employment and as government employees they are now getting to vote in the Council elections. The result is that, the Autonomous Councils of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao which were created for the political empowerment of the backward hill tribes and for development under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution has been defeated.

This is similar to NRC update and then negating it by Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 with Assam Accord becoming a mere document. The demand for separate voter list for elections to the Autonomous Councils in Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao district has gained momentum with the target to pressure the BJP led NDA government at the Centre and the Sarbananda Sonowal administration in Assam has created a small but significant upheaval in Assam. The demands that are made after Modi became the Prime Minister of India from reservation for Marathis in Maharastra to reservation for Patidars in Gujarat that has created a small ripple in terms of political positioning, the demand for separate electoral roll for council election for electing MACs (Member of Autonomous Council) if not attended to at the earliest will cost nothing to the ruling as well as the opposition but its impact will be seen in the district in terms of lives lost and both private and government property destroyed. In the midst of separate electoral roll getting shriller for Autonomous Council election in Karbi Anglong there are saner voices that are not heard. Dispur and New Delhi should explore the possibility of taking the base year as 1951 when the first NRC was carried out for separate electoral roll to Autonomous Council election in Assam. That way, the indigenous people of Assam will not be excluded from voting in MAC elections as well as it will keep away illegal Bangladeshis from having a say in who rule in our own land.

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