Tribal rulers want political parties to spell out poll agenda

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Shillong, Jan 29 (UNI) Tribal chieftains in Meghalaya today have asked all political parties to come out clear with their stand on their long-pending demands for constitutional recognition.

The traditional rulers, under the banner of the Assembly of Hynniewtrep Nations (AHN), had demanded creation of an Upper House for the traditional rulers of the state and direct funding for their inclusion into the development process.

At present more than 80 traditional institution heads from Khasi and Jaintia-dominated villages had resolved to meet leaders of major political parties to spell out their plans for the demands before the Assembly elections scheduled on March there.

" We will meet all the leaders of major political parties and ask them to come clear with their policies towards traditional institutions, " AHN spokesman John F Kharshiing told reporters here.

Last autumn tribal chieftains of the three major tribes - Khasi, Jaintia and Garo - had urged the Centre to create an Upper House for the traditional rulers of the state.

The proposed 60-member Upper House, to be named as Meghalaya Legislative Council, would comprise Khasi Syiems (Chief), Jaintia Dolois (Chieftains) and Nokmas (Clan Chieftains), besides representatives from all sections of society, including women, youth, academicians, farmers and entrepreneurs.

The members of the Meghalaya Legislative Council would serve a three-year term by rotation.

The chieftains also reiterated their demand for constitutional recognition in accordance with the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement of December 15, 1947 within the Constitution for the unique administrative, legislative and judicial powers.

Mr Kharshiing said tribal rulers would also garner assurances for direct funding from whoever comes to power and would bring out a legislation enabling the traditional bodies to work in tandem with the government for development process of the state.

Recently the Nationalist Congress Party in its manifesto had assured of creating a separate ministry to look after the traditional institutions, besides creating a separate cell to promote herbal medicine and establish a research institute on herbal medicine and traditional healthcare if they were voted to power.

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