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In its revival season, internal bickering hits Nagaland Congress

Nagaland News

Chishi, Therie may have to bury differences if any

Nirendra Dev
NEW DELHI, MAY 25: The party is as bankrupt as it was 5 years ago. One thing is certainly perfect and near permanent for the Congress party ~ its internal bickering.
Its score sheet in two subsequent elections in Nagaland has been zero; organisationally it stands nowhere even near new entrants such as NPP of Conrad Sangma or even the essentially Bihar-based LJP (Ram Vilas) but when it comes to intra-party conflicts, it is ‘numero uno’.
After great efforts in February 2023 polls, it had fielded a few potential candidates.
T Thomas Konyak was one such nominee from Tizit. He is in his 20s and is a qualified engineer and he took on BJP stalwart Paiwang Konyak. Had he not been blessed by benevolent Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, Paiwang could have been humbled.
New Nagaland State pradesh president S Supongmeren Jamir was himself a ‘good nominee’ from Mongoya Assembly constituency. The then Sate unit president Kewephape Therie himself contested from the prestigious and a tough battlefield Dimapur-1.
So far so good. But once elections were over, apparently pressure mounted for Therie’s replacement.
This actually unleashed the famous greenroom politics of the Congress party. Supongmeren was brought in as an ad hoc president. Supongmeren hails from student politics background but
is somehow considered “lightweight” to shoulder the responsibility of pradesh president in a State in which stalwarts still have good opinion of their heydays.
The apprehension therefore is that he is only as a stop gap arrangement and perhaps bigwigs are waiting in the wings to jump into the ship once the sailing is smooth.
One interpretation is Therie himself promoted Supongmeren’s name for the key post. Whether he recommended formally is purely ‘internal matter’ of the grand old party but the fact that people are raising eyebrows do not augur very well for Supongmeren Jamir, who became MLA just for one stint between 2003 and 2008.
The other apprehension could be that few other stalwarts of Nagaland politics have ‘blessed’ this move. More details on this are yet to be ascertained or ought to be grasped in their entirety.
For some time we heard former Chief Minister KL Chishi too could be considered for the post given his qualities in running an organisation and also his unique debating talent. It is entirely possible Chishi too was reluctant in his own way and wanted the course of ‘natural justice’ to reward him.
Nevertheless, the bigger issue is internal bickering and these days even central leaders do talk about this among themselves.
“We may still be in opposition in Nagaland or other States…But in every State we have a ‘Karnataka model’ and ‘natakas’ about power sharing are in our DNA. Do not be surprised, the BJP is also learning our kind of games pretty fast”, says one Congress leader obviously on condition of anonymity.
The Congress leader is smart enough to realise that he has made a two-edged statement ~ showing a mirror to the BJP but also talking about infighting as an inherent art in the Congress party.
Normally a media-friendly Neta, Chishi avoids talking about these “internal and intra-organisational matters”.
“There is a very old saying…Peeping into what’s happening inside a house or an organisation like Congress is a bad habit. Media should give up these bad habits at least for next 1 year”, said articulate Chishi.
A smart operative that he is, who knows Chishi must have also made a statement that will have fallout in more ways than one. Casually, I asked, “When did you talk to K Therie last?”
Chishi responded, “I am getting old, memories keep failing me. Do you remember when it was?”
Somehow, I thought no use creating any rift between two friends and so I did not raise anything on this with Therie.
Representing the Pfutsero Assembly constituency, Therie first became PHE Minister in 1993 and Chishi was Number 2 in the Jamir Cabinet as Finance Minister.
On one occasion, Therie called Chishi “one of the best Finance Ministers especially after dismal performance of Shri Vamuzo”. But Therie was a die-hard SC Jamir fan and so at a later stage when Chishi was dropped by Jamir, Therie also changed his opinion. I know Therie is still a great admirer of veteran Jamir.
Both Chishi and Therie are now keeping a hawk’s eye views on political shenanigans in Karnataka and in Delhi. Both want Congress revival and to see change of guard in Delhi by summer of 2024.
“The BJP has mishandled the Northeast and Manipur is a living example. People of Nagaland are keeping all eyes on Congress performance at the national level and how each one of us conduct and perform in the State”, says Chishi.
For his part, Therie says, “I have been telling this to voters of Nagaland and Dimapur-I when I contested myself that the Congress party is the best political party for our State. It has always delivered to Naga people and it will not allow any compromise on secularism. The BJP is a dangerous idea for us”.
Well, there are similarities in voice and thinking. Two stalwarts should bury their differences if any and work together. A section of leaders in Congress high command is already seized of the matter. Will they repose faith in veteran Chishi?
Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Where exactly is the Nagaland pradesh Congress headed?