Monday, October 2, 2023
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Chakhesang politics comes alive: Kenye supporters dream big 

May shake up regional power structures

Nirendra Dev 
NEW DELHI/KOHIMA, NOVEMBER 24: “Rezhii sii shudii te…”~ if I am not wrong, in Chakhesang this means ~ the game has just begun.
“Do not underestimate one Chakhesang, I have been handling two Bengali journalists”, remarked late Vamuzo when he was Chief Minister in reference to his ‘wordsmith dealings’ with this Journo and ‘Guru’ Asheem Poddar of All India Radio.
It was a casual remark. But the powerful ‘Chakhesang politics’ power-game is back in action in Nagaland. Essentially a fiefdom of regional politics, often Chakhesang heartland have produced stalwarts among so-called ‘nationalist politics’ of the Congress party also.
Veteran M Vero from Chazouba was one such leader. Among other Congressmen there have been equally significant players such as Zhovehu Lohe, Kewekhape Therie and Zachillhu.
Then I do remember late Vejoi Vero, who had said, “As a Journalist working in Nagaland, you must know the power of the word ‘almost’. A day will come, you will realise what I am stating.”
Among regionalists of course one has to mention Thenucho, a former Home Minister and ex-Speaker, and Kewege Kenye, a former Rajya Sabha MP, and of course his illustrious father Goyiepra Kenye.
Senior Kenye had accronized the word Chakhesang ~ creating a tribe in the 20th century by bringing together Chakros, Khejas and Sangtams together.
Kewege Kenye or also known to friends as Aza hails from the Chizami Assembly constituency. He had won the 1989 polls on an NPC ticket. He also became a Minister of State when Vamuzo formed first non-opposition JLP Government.
Aza was persuaded by the NPC leadership and he had vacated the seat to facilitate ‘non-MLA Chief Minister’ Vamuzo’ election to the State Assembly.
The by-polls to the Chizami seat was highly controversial. Though SC Jamir pushed Congress to give ‘walkover’ to Vamuzo then heading the State’s first opposition-less regime; Lohe, also a pradesh Congress general secretary, wanted to contest against Vamuzo.
Later when differences cropped up, Jamir accused Vamuzo of using ‘muscle power’ to stop Lohe file nomination. Vamuzo countered saying, “I was consensus Chakhesang Chief Minister so it was people’s desire”. Jamir again shot back, “It’s not true, Lohe wanted to contest, we in the party said it’s okay, you can come as an MLA.”
These should bring us to the issue of typical ‘Chakhesang pride’ and their pragmatism in political approach.
Kenye made a name for himself first by resigning his seat to facilitate a Chief Minister in 1990. He stayed away from State politics for long. He even declined to contest more than once from Chizami.
But he was nominated by the NPF to Rajya Sabha in 2016.
Here too, he made news chiefly during the debate and voting on highly controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Donning a regional NPF hat, Kenye took to the floors in Rajya Sabha on December 11, 2019 and had defended the legislation by defying the diktats of his bosses in Kohima.
One school of thought believes and this conviction brings us to the next stage ~ a logical conclusion ~ whether his actions have made him ‘deare’ to a section of the BJP.
The election season’s rumour mill is at work again and that echoes a line ~ Chakhesang voters in Chizami should make up their mind ~ whether they deserve a potential CM or just an MLA.
The grapevine says as Neiphiu Rio is aging; Kenye should be cultivated and projected as the next chief ministerial candidate for NDPP. This is only a figment of imagination and obviously lacks political backing at this critical juncture.
Moreover, according to 2018 alliance ~ 20:40 formula between BJP and NDPP, Chizami is the saffron party’s seat and here the BJP nominee Kevechutso Doulo came very close to winning it.
Doulo certainly deserves another shot at the goal post. But a good intention leader, Doulo also has enemies.
A former regionalist himself Kevechutso knows the art of politics. He has joined two colleagues sitting MLA K Khalo (NPF) and ex-Minister Deo Nukhu and issued a joint statement.
“It is disheartening to note that naive persons were misguided and lured…Politics is for progress and upliftment of the society and also to create a good atmosphere for all round development. We the undersigned after considering the prevailing situations have agreed to work collectively for the welfare of the 17th Chizami constituency at all levels”, it says.
Of course, the joint statement itself shows that Chakhesang leaders have ‘concern’ for people and so they came together to deal with any challenge.
The rumour on Aza is aimed at multiple purposes. Does it have Rio’s backing? Does NDPP leadership know the public mood is against the regional party for several reasons?
Thus this ‘new Tenyimia face’ politics would somewhat dilute the anti-incumbency spirit. It will rekindle the good old regional sentiment in Phek district. But why Rio should not feel threatened?
This could be also a ploy to counter ‘emerging leader’ NPF floor leader Kuzholuzo Azo Nienu
The game in Chakhesang heartland is far from over. In nearby Pfutsero, NPF stalwart and former Speaker Thenucho is also active again.
Rightly they say in Chakhesang: “Rezhii sii shudii te…”