AAPSU, orgs seek complete ban on non-APST participation in panchayat, municipal elections

[Staff Reporter]

ITANAGAR, 3 Dec: The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has reiterated its demand for a complete ban on participation of non-tribal and non-indigenous people in the panchayat and municipal elections.

Addressing reporters here at the press club, AAPSU general secretary Tobom Dai informed that the union held a meeting with Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Panchayati Raj Minister Bamang Felix, BJP president Biyuram Wahge and BJP general secretary Zingnu Namchoom on Thursday and conveyed to them that “the participation of non-tribal candidates in the panchayati raj elections is unacceptable.”

“We have informed the government that there are many defects in the panchayati raj election manual, which has prompted such an issue that is intruding into the rights of the ethnic people of the state,” Dai said.

AAPSU president Hawa Bagang also informed that the union has submitted a memorandum to the government, “which has been accepted by the government to formulate a policy.”

The memorandum seeks a complete ban on participation of non-indigenous people in panchayat and municipal elections; a policy decision or amendment to the Arunachal Panchayati Raj Act, 1997; upholding the spirit of the Daying Ering Recommendations of 1965; and a complete ban on issuance of domicile certificates and their usage in local body elections and other uses in the state.

Claiming that the candidates in Diyun, Lekang and Vijoynagar are not being asked for certain documents by the returning officers (RO), Bagang requested the State Election Commission to instruct the ROs to maintain the same check-list for candidates in all locations and districts.

While the AAPSU president said that the union was happy to learn that the BJP has withdrawn its non-indigenous candidates from Vijoynagar in Changlang district, he said that “no non-tribal should contest the elections in the future, either.”

Meanwhile, the All Arunachal Abo Tani Association (AAATA) has asked the state election commissioner (SEC) to take steps to debar any non-APST candidate from contesting in the upcoming panchayati raj (PR) election.

In a representation to the SEC, a copy of which was submitted to the panchayati raj secretary, the AAATA said, “It is amply clear that non-Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribe (non-APST) persons are disqualified for being chosen as a member of the panchayat, as provided under Article 243 F of the constitution of India as well as Section 57 (j) of the Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act.”

AAATA convenor Maji Tayem said that he had filed a PIL in the Gauhati court, “wherein the court was of the view that if a non-APST person who is not eligible to contest in the assembly is automatically debarred from contesting the panchayat elections within Arunachal Pradesh under ST reserved constituencies and the HC also stated that it is the responsibility of the returning officer to check such cases.”

The Save Arunachal Youth Association (SAYA) has demanded that the state government immediately cancel the BJP tickets issued to non-APSTs in Lower Lekang and Upper Lekang zilla parishad constituencies and various gram panchayat segments.

Addressing reporters at the press club here on Thursday, SAYA president Likha Rajnik claimed that Jugesh Taye in Upper Lekang and Bijoy Neog in Lower Lekang are contesting for the zilla parishad member seats, while Topon Sonowal (Dharampur-I 4/4), Ajoy Phukan (Dharampur-I 4/1), Modhu Deori (Dharampur -II 18/2) and Bidyawati Deori (Dharampur-II 18/3) are contesting for gram panchayat member seats in Lekang circle of Namsai district.

Rajnik appealed to the State Election Commission to take serious note of the matter. “If tickets to the Vijoynagar seats can be withdrawn, why can the tickets to these seats not be cancelled?” he asked.

Condemning the state government and the BJP, Rajnik said that appointment letters issued to these candidates should be withdrawn, as well.

He cautioned that if the party tickets and membership appointment of the non-indigenous candidates are not withdrawn in a day’s time, “the SAYA could create law and order problem in the capital.”

He also said that the association would submit a similar letter to the BJP president, as he is the ticket-issuing authority of the BJP.