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Regionalism Shining, but what about the ugly question on corruption?

Nagaland News

NPP, UDP, VPP thrived in Meghalaya, Motha in Tripura

Nirendra Dev
NEW DELHI, MARCH 4: The most dangerous impact of corruption is that it leads to convergence of all types of crises ~ economic, political and even security.
The NPP was named by BJP for alleged corruption during the campaign but no time was wasted once results came in and a letter of support was quickly issued. The direction was to the Raj Bhavan; now that elections are over, please do not hesitate to invite Conrad Sangma.
Regional parties have done extremely well in Meghalaya, Tripura and of course the NDPP is the chief gainer in Nagaland.
‘Long Live Regional’ used to be a popular slogan in Nagaland in the 1970s. Incumbent Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had joined politics then as a youth volunteer for regional party the United Democratic Front (UDF). In 1974, Rio became the president of Kohima district of the UDF Youth Wing.
We may mention here that SC Jamir was also one of the co-founders of UDF. Notably, Jamir is still around to see the ‘rise” of a UDF product Rio ~ who had served under Jamir as a Congressman for many years. Yes, Mr Rio ~ the State’s longest serving Chief Minister ~ has truly come a long way since then.
Referring to this has become important in this piece as the mandate 2023 in Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura needs closer analyses certainly from the perspective of regional politics.
The mandate has given a clear edge to regional forces in the Northeast. Of course, there can be no denying that the BJP will be an important player politically as it is the party in power in Delhi.
At the same time, to many it is the regional parties who have actually lived up to people’s aspirations in Meghalaya and Nagaland. Even in Tripura, the newly floated Tipra Motha could win as many as 13 seats.
Technically speaking, the onus of stopping or creating hurdles to BJP’s growth in Christian-dominated States has fallen on the Rio-led NDPP, the NPP led by Conrad Sangma in Meghalaya and the Mizo National Front led by veteran Zoramthanga in Mizoram. The State of Mizoram goes to polls later this year.
In Tripura, the communists suffered a setback due to a plethora of reasons. But the newly tribal-based outfit Tipra Motha, led by Pradyot Bikram Manikya, has made a big difference. In Meghalaya, the NPP won 26 seats ~ one more than the NDPP tally in Nagaland. Importantly, two other regional parties which are hardly discussed in national media, the UDP and the Voice of the People Party (VPP) also came out with flying colours. The UDP won 11 and VPP – 4.
Two other smaller parties, the Hill State People’s Democratic Party and People’s Democratic Front also could pick up two seats each. The vote share by regional forces in Meghalaya ~ NPP, UDP, VPP, HSPDP and PDF stood at around 58-60%. This includes NPP getting the lion’s share 31.39%, UDP – 16.21% and HSPDP – 3.56%.
On the other hand, the Trinamool Congress, though a regional party for all practical purposes and led by Mukul Sangma, could poll 13.78% and win only 5 seats. Mukul Sangma perhaps could have done better as a State-based player himself as the TMC got the tag of ‘Bengali party’ in a State where insider-outsider issues are politically crucial.
In Nagaland too, the NPP did well and won 5 seats.
But doing any post-poll post mortem is incomplete without talking about the fungus of corruption. Generally, this word is taken for granted in Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura ~ only difference could be at the scale and the style of corruption. All the leadership in these regional parties are from Congress — Rio, Conrad and even Pradyot. Hence, corruption can be debated easily.
On the day BJP tickets were announced for Nagaland and Meghalaya, while Rituraj Sinha spoke about corruption under Conrad, Nalin Kohli sitting next to Sinha at BJP headquarters was probably meditating about NDPP performance at Pughoboto and Chizami. Some BJP leaders would in future too love assignments like the one in Nagaland with Rio at the helm.
Corruption also means something deeper related to elections. It is anybody’s case to argue that huge amounts of money changed hands during elections. I spoke to a few well informed Naga leaders on the menace. One diagnosis was interesting and practically an eye-opener.
“For 5 years the voters sat in the corner cursing their fate and saw how political leaders and their sycophants and relatives mint money. So when elections came, they saw it as an opportunity to make money rather than correct the State polity”, one of my good friends said.
So if this argument is accepted, we cannot find fault with the voters. Why should they not take a few buckets of water from the oceans?
The fungus of Corruption is more than just being the way of life. It’s the life Mantra today. Now wait for the next stage ~ the ministry formation. Who does not like juicy portfolio(s) and money? Performance would again do the usual vanishing trick. Newly elected BJP leaders are reportedly camping in Guwahati to discuss something crucial ~ probable berths in the ministry.
I have read somewhere that ‘development’ has different meanings for different people. Truly it is difficult to measure and define the same. All the 3 States are not cohesive provinces but people do have homogenous needs. Good roads would benefit people with good Boleros but for villagers even a good public mode of transport service and buses for example are more essential than the roads.
But the neta-babu raj in India is essentially only a saga of corruption and it is more so in Northeastern States where the Congress ruled for most parts of six and half decades.
The biggest warning veteran LK Advani had given to his colleagues some years ago ~ we should not try to ape Congress. Some listen; others wonder why ex-Congress leaders get so much mileage in the Lotus party. This flower does bloom only in muddy ponds.