There is certainly something jinxed about the office of the Governor in Nagaland.
Several Governors have courted controversies and thus when RN Ravi looks back at his stint in Kohima Raj Bhawan, he may not have much to regret.
In the last few decades since baptism into journalism, this journalist has seen a few Governors at Kohima Raj Bhawan getting brickbats.
The State’s ‘only’ Christian Governor in a State ~ that takes pride in the name of Christ ~ MM Thomas too was not lucky.
Incidentally, Thomas like Ravi hailed from Kerala and was a prominent anti-Congress leader, who stood firmly against Indira Gandhi’s Emergency.
Thomas – even got the pet name (sic) ‘Misa Misi’.
His ‘major offence’ was when he declined to dismiss Chief Minister Vamuzo after a Guwahati High Court ruling had nullified ‘disqualification’ of 15 legislators.
Incidentally, even incumbent Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio was once disqualified by the then Speaker late TN Ngullie in 1990.
Prior to that Thomas had dismissed SC Jamir as the Chief Minister after 12 Congress MLAs, led by Tiameren and Chubatemjen Ao, deserted the Jamir camp.
Thomas had even declined to meet two ‘influential’ AICC observers ~ Rajesh Pilot and SS Ahluwalia ~ deputed by Rajiv Gandhi.
“The AICC observers’ views were not relevant to Nagaland politics and the number game in the State Assembly”, Thomas had told me later.
Of course, KL Chishi was the first Chief Minister sworn in by Thomas on May 16, 1990 but the Chishi Government was short-lived as Jamir and Vamuzo (then a non-MLA) joined hands and brought down the United Front Government.
Even hardcore regionalist Chalie Kevichusa was displeased with the manner Vamuzo-Vizol-Shurhozelie trio got together with Jamir to topple Chishi.
So to say, Shurhozelie (now NPF chief) never can do any business with a national party is also a misnomer.
While Kevichusa, who was later shot dead at Dimapur, floated Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in 1992, KL Chishi came back to the SC Jamir-led Congress fold and in 1993 even became his Finance Minister.
MM Thomas was rather unceremoniously replaced by the Narasimha Rao Government over the issue of his ‘refusal’ to suspend Chief Secretary SS Ahluwalia. Thomas later told Reporters at Kolkata airport that a Governor should not be accepted to sign on dotted lines.
His successor Lok Nath Mishra, then the Assam Governor, too like Jagdish Mukhi (as in 2021) was given additional charge of Nagaland.
Mishra also courted controversies for working more as a Congressman.
Late Mishra was also known as the ‘water therapy’ man and late Vamuzo used to claim that the Governor also knew the art of playing as a ‘snake charmer’.
Late Mishra’s tenure had a controversial ADC ~ one army officer; and it was alleged that he was the ‘real power’ behind the throne.
A few other Governors were also in controversies.
Lt Gen VK Nayar as Governor developed major differences with the then Chief Minister SC Jamir and the latter campaigned aggressively for his replacement. Those were also the days when army operations against Naga militant groups were at peak.
While one controversial officer in camouflage Colonel Aijt Singh kept on making headlines, SC Jamir, in an interview to me, gave the most catchy one-liner of the time, “I have never met Khaplang… I am the most harassed Naga politician”.
Incidentally yet again, such is paradoxical nature of power-politics that even in the case of outgoing Governor RN Ravi’s differences with the NSCN (IM) and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, detractors have dragged in Jamir’s name.
The Nagaland Governor and peace Interlocutor RN Ravi “had got himself a good partner in ex-Chief Minister of Nagaland and ex-Governor Mr. SC Jamir who is tooth and nail against Naga solution defending the 16-Point Agreement. Both of them had been surreptitiously working together and they are responsible for holding the NNPGs in the grip and misled the Govt of India, particularly the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi)”” ran a statement from NSCN (IM) on late Sunday night, August 16. 2020.
We are, in the ultimate, still playing around the saying ~ Politics is the art of impossible and the same art keeps on returning with old faces and strange bedfellows.
(Nirendra Dev is a New Delhi-based journalist and author. He had baptism into Journalism in Nagaland and served at Kohima and Dimapur in the 1990s)