A humble request to dear readers to take a short break from Covid-19 updates so as to start a fruitful discussion on the above mentioned topic. As we all know the destiny of any state is bound to be determine by the political parties who, for better or for worse, form and run the government. Here, Nagaland is no exception.
Numerous political parties have appeared, disappeared, and reappeared under different names in our state 58 years journey. Not to forget the different political parties that continues to survive all political storms till date.
Todays citizens continue to debate mostly on the current status of the state governance and lack of infrastructure, where focus is mainly directed on shortcomings rather than finding ways to right the wrongs in order to create a better and safer future for all. This article strive to lay out some general framework on how to right the political wrongs, that culminates in the form of bad governance, and how, through political measures, corrections can be achieved to some extent by the emergence of a strong ideological based political parties (which unlike the present political parties dare not to challenge the status-quo, created by prevailing social conditions).
Before touching on the topic, it is essential to note that apart from the dirty electoral politics, one of the main reason some Nagaland based political parties fail to deliver good governance, in-spite of being in power for several terms, is essentially a failure on the part of the political parties to initiate much needed social reforms to address various social ills prevalent in the state. These social evils are mainly contributed due to the unchanged social structure of traditional naga society which is comprised of individual-centric, family-centric, clan-centric, village-centric, and tribe-centric polity at every level of the society. And such centricism often manifest in the form of power struggle at various level from the apex tribal bodies and respective tribe bodies elections to village council, and from municipal bodies to state-legislative assembly. These struggles for power take the clan, village, area or tribe identity to a whole new level. For further comparative reading, I suggest readings of Ambedkar Annihilation of Caste System, where he propagates the necessity to initiate social reforms before political reforms and also a Volume of essays titled, Democracy in Nagaland: Tribes, Traditions, and Tension, edited by Jelly J. P. Wouters and Zhoto Tunyi.
One could certainly admit that even the politicians belonging to various political parties in Nagaland recognize the need to restructure the existing social order, yet they decide not to. This is because these sensible politicians recognize the need to push for social reforms, yet lack the courage to do anything as their rise to power depends on the very social order that is prevalent and in which he is part and parcel of. These politicians need the undying and blind support of their respective clan, village, range-area, to rise to power; and any attempt to make little positive change in social order means risking their support and jeopardizing their political ambitions.
Such ground and grassroots reality often force politicians, contesting elections, to do more for his family, clan, village when voted to power. One instance is where a contesting candidate, somewhere in Nagaland, openly declared that if voted to power, he will provide jobs only to his village people, while the neighbouring villages will only get money for their votes and support. As such, voters in villages chose to give full support if a contesting candidate comes from their clan or village.
Elsewhere, in town constituencies, like Dimapur, voters are bound to vote for candidates from their tribe. It is often heard and customary that some active party workers in Dimapur assembly constituencies chose to vote for opposite party candidate belonging to their tribe. Here the candidate credibility, integrity, or party-ideology does not count, only his village, tribe-identity, and his wealth counts.
The Possible Road Ahead
Living under such political reality, contributed chiefly by social factors, individuals can do little to bring any social or political reforms, even mass education to remove ‘ism at different levels will have little or no effect at all. Not only that, few citizens or organizations effort to check government corruptions are simply not enough.
Moreover, putting corrupt politicians or officials (after convictions) behind bars do not guarantee all politicians and government officials will mend their ways. And if citizens continue to play with the same rule, I reckon the present state of bad governance, corruptions, favouritisms, etc. will remain the same even in the foreseeable future.
The present system needs to be replaced with a new effective system to improve governance, thereby improving the living standards of the common people. So what could be the possible road ahead: the only way out from this present condition, though extremely difficult, is the emergence of a new visionary, ideological based political parties led by citizens who can defy traditional norms, if necessary; who despises corruptions and favouritism; who are against narrow village, region or tribe interests; who are legally tribal yet democratic not just in words but in mental attitude and behaviour as well as; who are against majoritarian politics and stick to the visionary ideology at all cost. The ultimate question is: do such citizens exist in Nagaland?
To end on a positive note, one can optimistically say if such political party emerges and wins people to their side, one can say Nagaland is in safe hand. Or else, like in the past general elections, we will find no option but to vote for a candidate knowing beforehand that nothing will improve. And we shall continuously fail to rewrite the history.
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