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Former super cop and Parliamentarian Hmar Tlomte Sangliana
Former super cop and Parliamentarian Hmar Tlomte Sangliana|File image
MIZORAM

Why this Mizoram-origin politician wants minority ‘quota’ in polls

Cong ditching Christians; didn’t give single ticket to community in Karnataka for Lok Sabha elections, says former super cop and Parliamentarian Hmar Tlomte Sangliana

Maitreyee Boruah

Bengaluru: Seventy-five-year-old former super cop and Parliamentarian Hmar Tlomte Sangliana juggles multiple roles with a reasonable success. He is a native of Mizoram, who calls Bengaluru his “home” as he has been staying in the city for the last five decades. During his policing days, Sangliana earned a loyal fan following for his tough measures and accessibility to the janata (public).

There are hardly a handful of decorated bureaucrats from the Northeast who have made a name for themselves in mainland India. Sangliana is one among the few.

His 36 years of long and illustrious career in the police department definitely helped him when he joined politics soon after his retirement. He retired in 2003 as Director General of Police and Inspector General of Prisons.

In his debut election in 2004, Sangliana, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate, caused a major upset by defeating Congress veteran CK Jaffer Sharief (who died last year) in the Bangalore North parliamentary constituency.

Sangliana courted his first political controversy when he decided to go against his party’s whip and cross-voted in favour of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal in the Lok Sabha.

The then Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government won the trust vote in Parliament on July 22, 2008, but Sangliana, as expected, was expelled from the BJP. Soon, he joined the Congress.

It was almost a decade ago. History seems to be repeating itself for the 75 years old, albeit little differently.

Just days ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Sangliana resigned from the Congress to protest against the grand old party’s “apathy” to field a single Christian candidate from the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka. Sangliana was one of the aspirants for the Bangalore Central parliamentary constituency.

On April 18 (Thursday), voting took place in 14 parliamentary constituencies in Karnataka, the remaining 14 constituencies will go to polls on April 23.

Now, the former Parliamentarian is planning to file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court asking for a “quota for all minority communities”.

In an exclusive interview with EastMojo, Sangliana elaborates how a “quota system” would help minorities not to lose their political voice in times of Hindutva politics, talks about the Citizenship Amendment Bill and much more…

EastMojo: Why did you resign from the Congress?

Hmar Tlomte Sangliana: Right now, I am an ex-Congress vice-president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee. I have resigned from my post and the party recently. My resignation is an expression of the unhappiness shared by the Christian community in Karnataka. The Congress has been ditching us (the Christian community). The Congress didn't give a single ticket to Christians in Karnataka. It’s a fact that the Christian community (which forms 1.9% of the 6.25 crore Karnataka population, as per the Census 2011) has helped and supported the Congress all along, thinking that the party is more secular than others. Now, we have lost confidence in the Congress.

EM: Are you upset because you did not get ticket?

HTS: No, it is not about me. It is about my community as well as other minorities. Several top leaders and civil society groups belonging to both the Christian and Muslim communities are upset with the Congress. (Lack of minority candidates in Karnataka polls have caused a lot of murmurs. While the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance has fielded one minority (Muslim) candidate, the BJP has none).

EM: Why do you want to approach the Supreme Court?

HTS: I am planning and preparing to file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court. My idea is that there should be a quota system for all minority communities, along those lines for the Anglo-Indian community. Let nominated seats be available for all minorities -- Christians, Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists. One seat each for all minority communities in every election (parliamentary, assembly or municipality) so that it would be clear from the beginning that there would be at least one representative from all communities. It would avoid disgruntlement. Further, parties can give (if they want to) tickets to more candidates from minority communities.

EM: When are you going to file the PIL?

HTS: As soon as possible. I am currently consulting with leaders from minority communities and legal and constitutional experts. If the apex court gives judgement in my favour then there has to be a constitutional amendment in this regard.

EM: Are you planning to join any party?

HTS: I don’t think so. Political parties are indirectly approaching me to join them.

EM: Do you keep a track of politics in the Northeast?

HTS: Not very closely, but yes, mostly through newspapers, television and social media (WhatsApp). That way, to an extent I am following the developments in the region.

EM: What is your take on the Citizenship Amendment bill and massive protest over it across the Northeast?

HTS: The bill was unwelcoming. But ultimately, humans have to find a place for living. The process has to be worked out for settlement of people anywhere in the world. Unless there is no proper understanding of human misery, endless unrest would continue everywhere, including the Northeast. This is my personal view. We are all human beings and there has to be a policy of assimilation. The authorities need to work towards a peaceful solution. If it is for political purpose, then I am against it, but for humanitarian reason, I support giving asylum to people from other countries. It is natural for all to find a place for living. But how to provide homes to all is a big question.

EM: What are your predictions for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections?

HTS: Definitely, a lot of surprises is in store. The outcome of the results would be interesting to watch. I am sure students and researchers from the field of political science would find it interesting to study how election results would unfold.

EM: Do you think Prime Minister Narendra Modi would come back to power?

HTS: I don’t want to comment on that.