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IMPHAL — Amidst the ongoing turmoil that has gripped Manipur for the past four months, the Manipur Assembly is slated to convene on August 29 for its inaugural session. However, a cloud of uncertainty looms over the attendance of the 10 Kuki-Zomi-Hmar members of the Assembly, who remain hesitant about traveling to the predominantly Meitei-inhabited capital of Imphal for the session.
Governor Anusuiya Uikey issued an order on August 21, summoning the Assembly based on the state Cabinet’s second recommendation, which followed a meeting on Monday. However, the Kuki-Zomi-Hmar MLAs have expressed reservations about their participation in the session due to prevailing concerns.
“While it is our duty as legislators to attend the Assembly, the current situation raises doubts about the government’s plans for us. Given the circumstances, it’s difficult to believe that there will be adequate means for us to attend. Reflecting on past events, we must remember that an MLA, despite having proper security, was brutally attacked and fell into a coma. We will consult amongst ourselves and decide on the best course of action,” commented one of the legislators, alluding to the assault on Thanlon MLA and former minister Vunzagin Valte in Imphal on May 3.
The Cabinet’s recommendation for the session, as well as the summons issued by the Governor, comes after the Governor withheld approval for the Cabinet’s initial recommendation to convene the Assembly on August 21. This situation posed a dilemma for the government, as Article 174 of the Constitution stipulates that the interval between the last sitting of a session and the first sitting of the subsequent session should not exceed six months. Considering the last session concluded on March 3, the Assembly is required to convene before September 2. Additionally, the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Assembly mandate that summons should be individually issued to each member “at least 15 days before the appointed date.” However, this deadline expired on August 21.
To facilitate the session, the government invoked an emergency provision within the rules, allowing for the publication of an announcement regarding the session’s date and location in the Gazette and the press. Members can then be informed through telegrams, circumventing the individual issuance of summons.
As Manipur navigates these challenging circumstances, the fate of the forthcoming Assembly session rests on the evolving dynamics between the government and the Kuki-Zomi-Hmar MLAs.