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Nagaland preparing for ‘Na janey ho’ moment

Nagaland News

‘Delay magic’ to work again in Peace talks 

Nirendra Dev 

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 23: The rendezvous with destiny matters a lot.

For 25 years and counting the Naga peace parleys are on. For two decades and a half, Nagaland story has been more than merely its history and geography.

For the last 22 years or so, the Nagaland State polity has also been the story of Neiphiu Rio, who quit Congress and embraced regional politics ~ tailored himself to suit BJP-s one-upmanship at times and built up his career.

Even the likes of SC Jamir have been politically outsmarted and electorally humbled in a by-election. The Government of India ~ irrespective of party affiliations ~ has been a player all these years. The Manmohan Singh Government could have done more but despite limitations

Oscar Fernandes tried his best.

The Vajpayee Government between 1998 and 2004 trusted the ‘anti-Congress’ spirit and encouraged regional party ~ i.e. the NPF. Despite victory of 7 seats in 2003, the BJP did not bother much to expand base or convince Naga voters about the virtues of its definition of nationalism.

The likes of M Vekaiah Naidu and Nitin Gadkari as BJP presidents were so engrossed with personal ambitions and ‘reviving’ BJP in the cow belt that Nagaland hardly mattered. But the saffron kept flying due to the tireless works of some committed leaders ~ M Chuba Ao, James Vizo and late Visasolie Lhoungu and so on.

The Modi Government gave a mega push. But things have been hijacked since October 2019. The result oriented Governor R N Ravi also shifted base.

In the 2018 polls, notwithstanding the not so confident approach, the BJP produced ‘best striking Rate’ in Nagaland ~ surpassing both NPF and Neiphiu Rio-led NDPP. It won 12 seats out of mere 20 it was given in the deal by Ram Madhav-friendly NDPP.

Had there been no interference from Kohima’s power lobby ~ Atouizu and Pughoboto seats could have come as well. In Phek district, Chizami almost reposed faith in the ‘pro-Hindu’ BJP and thus the margin of loss for BJP’s Kevechutso Doulo was quite narrow ~ only 403 seats.

Now all eyes are on New Delhi.

A microscopic minority among stakeholders could be optimistic of a solution to the talks before Christmas or before Assembly polls. The ‘delay magic’ is at work! And who would say ‘double standards’ propelled by money power will not succeed yet again?

Of course much hope is still reposed on a man called Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi from certain quarters like a section of civil societies who have lately yet again penned a letter pressing for urgency.

“By any standard, be it physical developments or be it the well being of the citizens, Nagaland has retrogressed by decades under the weight of elongated negotiations”, said the statement. Strong words indeed!

There is a virtual catch-22 situation and elections are at doorsteps yet again. But can the rendezvous with destiny be postponed indefinitely?

The NDPP-BJP poll alliance lacks political conviction and even fails logic to a large extent. The general refrain being an ambitious party like the BJP has surprisingly decided to play second fiddle to a regional partner which does not have much to its credit in terms of governance/administration or working towards an early Solution to the pending Naga issue.

However, if it is a self-goal, why shouldn’t it be corrected at all? BL Santhosh and JP Nadda may be finding themselves with tied hands in a tough situation.

Several NDPP legislators and leaders on the other hand are still running around Delhi hoping miracles may happen and the BJP will review the status of 20-40.

There is speculation that another regional player, NPF, is trying to play its own games and notwithstanding Shurhozelie’s radical-regionalism ~ it has offered the saffron a much better deal ~ 40 for the BJP and 20 for itself.

A marginalised and fund-starved NPF would love such an arrangement. But this is easier said than done and could be even called ‘day-dreams’.

The BJP is still giving mixed signals. While it has geared up full steam in Meghalaya and Tripura for polls, in Nagaland there is a peculiar inertia.

TheState unit president was expected to be replaced and despite repeated assurances by a few ‘men of honour’ in BJP headquarters, nothing like that happened.

“Why should we…,” goes a rumour-mongering line when the party knows the ultimate results ~ 2-3 seats at the mercy of NDPP!

In the ultimate, NDPP and its Chief Minister Rio are forces to reckon with. Rio’s detractors have to wait for a few more new twists in the entire plot and miracles to surprise and oust him.

A few leaders are still working. Money always counts a lot in Nagaland elections. Perhaps no other factor matters so much.

But in politics, the most powerful sentiment often is emotion. Are Nagaland voters emotionally with the NDPP in a real sense?

If Solution is dear to their hearts and only such a stage can end extortion menace, will they still think money is important and status quo should prevail?

The civil society’s statement may be just another piece of paper for Delhi. Himanta Biswa Sarma may be more influential in Nagaland politics than any previous Assam Chief Minister.

But how will Nagaland voters work out their strategies? Corruption ~ it is argued ~ came to Nagaland because India imposed it; and policy makers in Delhi encouraged it.

For a change, good political logic at the level of common people and some amount of honesty need to unite at this juncture. Or else, last two decades of ‘ceasefire terror’ and economic hardships will become the order of the day.

Next time if someone asks ~ how did all the mess happen, elders cannot give the characteristic Nagamese response: ‘Na janey ho’.