Sword Vashum, the retired additional deputy comptroller and accountant general has announced he will run for the upcoming Maninpur assembly polls in 2022 from 45-Chingai (ST) Assembly Constituency from Congress party. This was announced in a press conference held at 3-In-1 Hotel, Ukhrul on Saturday where he shared his aims and agendas.
The four key aims/agendas Sword Vashum placed are given below.
- Restoration of Villages/ land facility allotted to village district to respective hill districts
- Employment: Immediate review of employment quota mutually agreed upon in the ratio of 2:1
- Immediate implementation of Article 371(c), notably provision relocated to bifurcation of budget for the hills and valley, and functional Autonomy of HAC (Hills Area Committee).
- Delimitation: Based on demographic and topographic features.
Speaking to media persons at the press conference, Sword Vashum said, “What drove me to deciding on contesting in this forthcoming assembly election 2022 Manipur is my concern for the future of the younger generation and for the people at the grass root level. I have no other agenda of my own. I have no personal individual interest to pursue. The only reason why I have decided to enter the electoral fray is to come forward and serve our people whole heartedly.”
He then shared the agendas he has taken of which he said that three are possible for immediate implementation and the fourth agenda would take some time but that have to be pursued in right earnest till it is achieved.
Sword Vashum then went on to elaborate the agendas, “The first being immediate restoration of the land at the foothills of the valley that have been forcibly, I would say arbitrarily enacted to the valley districts from the hill districts. What I am trying to say is this, those villages and the lands should be immediately restored”, said Sword Vashum.
“The second one would will be immediate review of the employment quota, a portion for the tribal. We have 33% as of now, we have mutually agreed upon at the time when the statehood was granted to Manipur state. Based on the formula mutually agreed, the tribal of Manipur should have not less than 30,000, but far from it unfortunately, tribal employees as of today do not add up to 20,000 leaving a gap of more than 10,000. This should be immediately reviewed. And the needful should be done right away”, he continued.
“The third one is immediate implementation of Article 371(c) and to start with, out of the many the first one would be budget bifurcation head wise, sectoral wise so that we would know for sure what is the allocation earmarked for the tribal areas the hill districts and accordingly peoples representative. The MLAs and the MPs could pursue whether or not they are getting the right share that have been earmarked for the tribals. Secondly, under this article, Hill Areas Committee comprising of tribal MLAs coming from the earmarked 19 constituencies, they should have functional autonomy so that they would be able to look after the needs and problem of the tribal areas. Without functional autonomy they cannot as long as this constitutionally empowered entity is being treated as of now as a state government creation which is certainly not what has been envisage under the constitution by the Article 371c, this is very important”, he said.
Stressing on the three agendas, that it should be implemented right away, Sword Vashum said the tribals are not asking for anything new, nor it is asking for anything more. “What we are asking is only this much that these have been constitutionally provided for, constitutionally sanctions and therefore, should be right away given to us,” he maintained.
While talking about the forth agenda delimitation, Sword Vashum explained under the the existing delimitation arrangements a tribal MLA on an average looks after a physical size of 1150 sq km as against a valley MLA on average looks after a tiny size of 53 sq km. He said that it defies any human common sense that such a thing should exist as a symbol of a democratic principle. “This has to be reviewed and we must bring about a complete overhaul in the existing delimitation. Even from a demographic point of view, hills, any constituency, it is looking after electorate of the size of 38,000 to 39,000 where as in the valley, none of the constituency reaches even 30,000. So both from the point of the demography and well as topography, delimitation has to be reviewed, corrected and proper justification should be done to the tribal people,” he added.
Stressing on the fourth agenda he further said, “I have placed before the people and with the support of the people, I hope I will be able to get a mandate and pursue this in right earnest.”
In his concluding remark, Sword Vashum said, “I don’t have the strength of my own, I don’t have the riches of my own, I don’t have the intellect of my own, the only strength I have is the constitutional right and I won’t budge even an inch from what has been given to us by the constitution. We are not asking this from the state government of Manipur. Whatever had been given to us by the constitution and through the constitution we are only asking that due justice should be done to us.”