Sunday, May 9, 2021
Editorial

How so, Guv?

In his speech on Republic Day at Kohima, Nagaland Governor reportedly sought to convey the message that the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) is not applicable to Nagaland. If so, then Nagaland’s First Citizen ought to explain on what basis he sought to convey this very crucial message ~ especially against the background of Union Home Minister having asserted that the Bill is applicable throughout the entire country, not just in the Northeast, after this region rose up in united protest against the unconstitutional CAB. In his assertion, the Union Home Minister did not mention that the Bill is not applicable to Nagaland; in fact, no one from the Union Government has said so, not even the BJP. So, unless the Union Government has excluded Nagaland from the purview of this Bill, the official notification of which we are yet to see, our First Citizen ought to explain his “message” ~ without citing Article 371 (A) and the BEFR, 1873, because arguments of these two being protection enough for Nagaland have already been blown to smithereens. But the Nagaland Governor is not without company in his eagerness to please his Masters at New Delhi. Equally absurd is the Manipur Government’s request to the Centre to exclude Manipur from the applicability of the amendments of the CAB. In his article, Citizenship Bill: Issue that is uniting Northeast, which was first published in the Imphal Free Press, Amar Yumnam, Head of Department of Economics, Manipur University, writes: “This is ridiculous, to the highest order. First, these are nothing but unconstitutional statements being used by the Government to mislead her own population. Second, initial exclusion can never be permanent exclusion in such cases. This is because the moment citizenship is granted the applicability of the exclusion principle expires; the longevity of the exclusion norm is as short as possible in such cases of social phenomena.” Nagaland Governor is all the more obliged to substantiate his message because nothing in the Bill mentions exclusion to Nagaland or any state and/or region of India ~ a Google check will bear that out ~ and because of the State Government’s volte face on the CAB. Then again, is it possible that the Governor is talking about another CAB, which is not yet privy to the public? True the Governor is only parroting what the Nagaland Government has been trying to persuade the public in order to cover it’s unabashed support ~ perhaps not so much for the CAB ~ but definitely for the Government at Delhi, for obvious reasons. The thought then surfaces ~ have our worthies actually read the contents of the Bill and the connotations between the lines? Surely, the Northeastern people are not without intelligence not to read the contents and not fully understand the subtexts of the CAB? How long do our politicians and prachariks think they can hoodwink our people? Now, for the sake of an academic discourse, if Article 371 (A) was good enough protection for Nagaland from all and sundry laws enacted by the Indian Parliament, how come this Article couldn’t save us from demonetization and the GST Act ~ including so many other laws that makes our social, cultural and religious rights, as well as our land and natural resources vulnerable? Did the Nagaland State Legislative Assembly ratify the Union Government’s demonetization move and the GST Act? If not, why not and therefore how can any Nagaland state Government assert that Article 371 (A) is good enough protection to serve the interests and ensure the benefits of the people here? The fact is that for political parties that form state Governments with the support of political parties ruling in the Centre, it becomes a matter of political exigency to support the Central ruling dispensation without reservations just for survival and at the cost of the people and the future of the state. This has always been the case in Nagaland ~ more so now. In fact, against this background, can the ruling dispensation in Nagaland now even utter the words “honourable solution” vis-à-vis the Naga issue? The Nagaland Government has once again blatantly misled the people ~ it’s volte face is evidence ~ unfortunately for it but mercifully for once the people are refusing to be misled. But how would this play out in the end? And hereby hangs the tale of a people and a Government that allowed the camel inside the tent and offered the best of our famed Naga hospitality.

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