SHILLONG, Feb 08: The Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) has pledged to fight for a separate state for the Khasi and Jaintia people of Meghalaya if it is voted to power in the ensuing Assembly elections.
This pledge was part of the manifesto which was released by the party here on Thursday wherein the HSPDP said that it will also stay opposed to the mining of uranium in Meghalaya.
The 18-points manifesto released by the HSPDP’s supremo Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit here on Thursday, two weeks ahead of the February 27 Assembly polls, also assured the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to deal with influx issue in the state.
The party also reiterated its demand for the immediate inclusion of Meghalaya under special provision of Article 371 of the Indian Constitution as it was done in the case of other states like Nagaland (371 A) and Mizoram (371 G).
“We will continue to fight for a separate Khasi-Jaintia state, which is one of issues taken up by the party a long time back, and we hope that the Government of India will one day consider our demand,” Basaiawmoit said.
It may be mentioned that the demand for a separate statehood for the Khasi-Jaintia was spearheaded by the founder of the HSPDP late Hopingstone Lyngdoh.
Whether it will give a further boost to the party’s demand with the Garo National Council (GNC) also pushing for a separate Garoland, he said that infact even in the past there has been an understanding between the two regional parties on the issue.
“The understanding is that the HSPDP will fight for separate Khasi-Jaintia state, while the GNC for separate Garoland,” he added.
Claiming that the demand will bring many benefits, Basaiawmoit said, “One is that we would have a state where the name of our community will be carried like the state of Nagaland for the Nagas. We want our state should also be in line with other states in the North East.”
Basaiawmoit however said that the demand for inclusion of the state under Article 371 of the Constitution is to ensure a stronger law to safeguard the indigenous people.
Denying the allegation by other parties that this would lead to the dissolution of the Autonomous District Councils (ADCs), he said, “We don’t have that in mind but to ensure there are stronger laws to safeguard our interest.”
Basaiawmoit pointed out that in the year 1965, the United Khasi Jaintia Autonomous District Council had brought up the Land Transfer Act, which was however struck down by the Supreme Court which states that ADC does not have the mandate to legislate such an Act.
“But fortunately, we got our own state in 1972 and also have our own Land Transfer Act otherwise we would have lost large chunk of lands,” he said.
He said that the provision of Article 371 is very strong as no act of parliament can apply for example in the state of Nagaland where the ONGC cannot extract oil. “Whereas here in the state, ban on coal mining and all kinds of ban is applicable because the 6th Schedule does not have the mandate,” he said.
Asked whether the party is going to take up the issue of ban on coal mining, Basaiawmoit said, “Until and unless you have a strong law in the state then it will be pointless to tell the people (or giving false hope). Therefore we first need to have a law.”
Apart from bringing good governance, the party also seeks to strengthen the state’s exchequer besides promoting tourism and markets including border trades.
The party said it would also improve the functioning of the Meghalaya Public Service Commission (MPSC) and District Selection Committees (DSCs) in as far as job recruitment is concerned.
The other issues include fight for inclusion of Khasi language in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution, resolving of boundary dispute, oppose railway in the state, ensure better road connectivity, agriculture, horticulture and provide affordable health care facilities.
With the HSPDP’s alliance partner, the United Democratic Party yet to release its own manifesto, Basaiawmoit informed that the common minimum programme will be decided based on the manifestos of the two regional parties.