Sixth Schedule sop likely outcome of GoI-NSCN (IM) talks

IMPHAL, Dec 14 : There is strong possibility of the ongoing parleys between the Government of India and NSCN-IM culminating with the Sixth Schedule offer to the latter. According to an informed source, the Centre had asked Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh if he or the State Government has any reservation on the proposal to offer Sixth Schedule to the NSCN (IM) as a solution to the decades old Naga political issue. In the aftermath of Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde soliciting comments from the Chief Minister on the proposed offer to the Naga rebel group, Congress MLAs have reportedly discussed the matter among themselves.

Even though solution eluded meeting of the Congress Legislature Party, mem- bers present unanimously decided to rope in services of subject experts for minute deliberations on provisions of Indian Constitution‘s Sixth Schedule, confided the source. Although the CLP meeting witnessed heated exchange of words amongst some party MLAs, Chief Minister Ibobi Singh will be leaving for the national capital at the earliest for further discussion on the issue with the Union Home Minister. The development assumes significance as Ibobi Singh speaking at the recently held Congress party convention at Hapta Kangjeibung had declared that in solving a particular issue the solution should not be the genesis of new problems. AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi was also present at the said convention.

When contacted Manipur University‘s Political Science Professor Ksh Bimola Devi told The Sangai Express that hasty implementation of the Sixth Schedule in the hill districts will not serve the real purpose. Suggesting minute deliberation on the pros and cons of Sixth Schedule prior to its implementation, she said whether or not Sixth Schedule will benefit people at the grassroots should be the focus of any relevant discussion on the issue. Pointing out that after about 20 years the State Government recently revived the Autonomous District Councils in the hill districts, she said on top of the administrative power conferred on the ADCs, implementation, in case, of the Sixth Schedule will further empower the ADCs.

Opining that there is need for assessing performances of ADCs with regard to benefits extended to people at the grassroots level, Prof Bimola emphasised that possible outcome of implementing the Sixth Schedule should be studied before its actual implementation. As per recommendations of the Bordoloi Committee, the Indian Constitution grants legislative, executive and financial powers to the Sixth Schedule but the financial power remains technically non-viable as governing councils depend on both the Central and State Governments. Moreover, the legislative and executive powers are limited within the confines of the district concerned, she explained while opining that due to poor resources in the hill districts the governing councils will continue to depend on the Government even after implementation of Sixth Schedule.

As the guiding principle of Sixth Schedule is to ensure that the benefits reach people at the grassroots its implementation also entails that ADC chairmen and members should be politically conscious and sincere for effectiveness of the Sixth Schedule provisions, the MU professor said. On the possibility of Sixth Schedule consequently leading to consequently leading to demands for creation of new States, she said such a demand is technically infeasible and that firmness of the State Government is essential in case such a situation arise. The fact that Sixth Schedule in already in force in Assam’s Bodo areas but the Bodoland District Council not raising separation demand indicates resoluteness of the Assam Government, Prof Bimola observed. TSE


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