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Ibobi plays astrologer

Imphal, March 19: Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh today played an astrologer to fix a date for a one-day session of the state Assembly to discuss a bill.

During a discussion on Manipur Hill Areas Autonomous District Council Bill, 2008, Ibobi Singh asked one of the House employees to bring a calendar after the Opposition suggested that the session be convened in the first week of April.

The chief minister dismissed April 1 because it was “fools’ day”, April 2 as ekadashi and finally settled on April 3, a Thursday.

The House agreed to reconvene the Assembly on that day to discuss and pass the Manipur Hill Areas Autonomous District Council Bill, 2008.

Ekadashi, considered an inauspicious day, falls on the 11th and 26th day of every month in the Meitei calendar. No marriage, last rites or foundation stone-laying ceremonies are held on that day. “I want a good day to hold the session because I want to push through the bill smoothly,” Ibobi Singh said amid laughter from other members.

On April 3, the House will discuss the bill, which was referred to the Hill Areas Committee today. The bill was introduced in the Assembly on March 6 and referred to the committee the same day. The House again referred the bill to a select committee of the House led by tribal development minister D. D. Thaisii on March 12.

The minister tabled the bill today.

The bill, if and when passed, will pave the way to holding elections to the six autonomous district councils.

Elections to the district council have not been held for more than 20 years mainly because of the demand for the extension of the Sixth Schedule to the five hill districts.

Ibobi Singh said his government wanted to hold the elections before the monsoon. “I don’t want to delay the process. We need more time as there is the need for delimitation of the constituencies under the councils. Many villages were either uprooted or shifted to other districts during the nineties’ ethnic clashes,” Ibobi Singh said.

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