| KMSS president Akhil Gogoi addresses the news meet in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, Aug. 21: The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) has demanded constitutional amendments to give representation to all ethnic communities of Assam in the proposed Upper House.
KMSS president Akhil Gogoi told reporters here today that it would oppose the Centre’s move to elect the members of the Upper House like it does in Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and other states with a bicameral legislature.
Union law minister Kapil Sibal recently informed chief minister Tarun Gogoi that the Centre would table a bill in the winter session of Parliament for setting up a Legislative Council.
The KMSS demanded that the proposed Legislative Council should be an “ethnic parliament” with representation of ethnic groups.
“We demand that members of the ethnic communities who do not get elected to our Legislative Assembly because of their number (population-wise) should get representation in the Legislative Council. Communities like Moran, Muttock, Amri Karbi, Rengma, Sarania Kachari and many are small in numbers and do not have representation in our Assembly. Hence, we want our government to work out a procedure on how members of these communities can get representation in the Upper House. It may be through election among the community members or nomination. We demand that if required, the Constitution should be amended as per Article 368,” Akhil said.
According to procedure, the Upper House in Assam will have 42 members (one-third of the 126-member Assembly). One-third of its members (14) will be elected by MLAs, another 14 by members of local self-government bodies, seven will be nominated by the governor while the remaining nine will be elected by autonomous councils.
Akhil, however, said if the proposed system were followed, the Upper House would be dominated by the party in power (Congress).
“The Congress at present has 78 MLAs and dominates the panchayats and municipal bodies. So if the present system is followed, it will rule the Legislative Council too. It will automatically be a platform to rehabilitate those Congress leaders who lost election or the dissidents,” he said.
KMSS, however, is not against nomination of seven members by the governor.
The KMSS leader said if the Constitution was not amended for representation of ethnic communities, the Upper House would merely be a financial burden on the state. “As members of Legislative Council will get equal perks and facilities, it will bring a huge financial burden,” Akhil said.
The general secretary of Amri Karbi Students’ Union, Bishnu Teron, too, echoed these views.
“The Upper House should provide representation to ethnic communities who are less in number and are unable to get elected to the Assembly,” Teron told The Telegraph. The state has nearly five lakh Amri Karbis.