Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Nagaland Church’s initiative for clean Election vis-à-vis Nagaland Assembly Election of 2023

S C Jamir
(Former CM & Governor)

“Pages of yesterday cannot be revised, but pages of today and tomorrow are blank and you hold the pen: Make it an inspiring story.”
Every Naga man and woman yearns for a peaceful, unit ed, harmonious, progressive and prosperous Nagaland, where justice and transparency shall be the bulwark of governance. Honesty, truthfulness, courage and endurance were the inherent qualities of the natives of Nagaland. It will not be a gigantic task for the present generation to revive these characters and make these the essence of governance of Nagaland and to make our land a shining example for others to emulate. Nagas, especially the younger generation, is well advised not to curse the kind of darkness our people had to encounter. But let us rather kindle a little light because it is only through the collective effort and wisdom of all sections of the people of Nagaland alone can bring out of the darkness of despair into light of hope and joy.
With this short preface let us have an in-depth introspection and dig out the causes to enable us to find remedies.
Clean Election: Nagaland Church leaders have taken up prayerfully to have clean election in Nagaland. Both Churches and Civil societies at all levels attempted to educate the electorates to exercise their votes honestly in electing their representatives. They should forsake materialism and adhere to truth and honesty. This simple edict which simply says: “This you should not do” had no effect on the hearts and souls of the Christian electorates . As Christians, they were called upon not to yield their hearts’ inclination towards worship of mammon, outwardly they seem to have eschewed the sin but the inward hungering of mammon continued. This is exactly the real picture of recent election. Because of these unrelenting attitudes of the electorates, candidates were compelled to spend beyond their means. The people had made them not as leaders but as pauper and helpless creatures. Who are to be blamed for this nefarious and totally commercialized culture of election in Nagaland? Many seen and unseen forces germinated over the years are responsible for the present ugly and deplorable spectacle of humdrum electoral extravaganza in Nagaland.
Party system is a cornerstone in a democracy. India is one of the biggest democratic countries of the world and Nagaland is a State within Indian Union. As any States of the country, since 1964 there had been election to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly on party lines. In the past the electorates of Nagaland exercised their rights to vote purely on party’s lines and almost all previous elections were peaceful. The underground had started involving actively during 2003 election and since then this element was used by vested interests during the elections all these years. Ideology and principle of all Political parties in Nagaland have given way to money and muscles power. Threats are common practice and manifestoes are just a paper, electorates are not at all interested in them. All candidates who are interested in the election have got only one objective i.e. to become MLA and Minister. Political parties are relevant for candidates only to get tickets. All members of respective parties have shown and proved that after distribution of tickets, all those who were denied of tickets started moving helter-skelter and knocking at the door of hitherto antagonistic parties seeking tickets for contesting in the election. What then is the significance of political ideology and morality? This is the most dangerous trend in Naga polity even including the underground.
The behaviours of candidates who were denied of party tickets had demonstrated and depicted that generally Naga politicians are like weathercock. Such people are never admired in civilized countries of the world, as a politician or anything else and the world shall never respect him. This virulent malady is seriously afflicting Naga polity. Have the enlightened citizens of the State have ever considered how much moral weight we lose in society by perpetual instability. No one even attach any importance to your opinion, because your opinion has no importance in it, seeing that you yourself will contradict it in a very short time. Will it not amount to throwing away the whole force and weight of one’s character, simply because this insane habit of being always unstable? Why not recognize this ugly and unpalatable stigma in our body politics. If one continues to be instable, he would be
like the chaff which the wind drives away ~ of no account to the world at all. This is one of the most cancerous maladies that is creeping into the minds of many Naga politicians. Multiple defections were the hall mark of the recent Nagaland Assembly election of 2023. Cupboard love in politics will be very dangerous for the people and the State.
A new concept of a Party-less or Opposition less Government is another queer or outlandish experiment in the State of Nagaland. Initially, it was proclaimed that formation of a Party-less Government in Nagaland was to help hasten the Naga political settlement but there was no positive result to achieve the objective. Election was held and after declaration of results all elected MLAs irrespective of different political parties came out officially supporting the ruling government which is nothing but hangover of the Opposition-less idea. It is a clear manifestation of their sole objective to be a part of the treasury bench only which as a matter fact is a negation of democratic norms. I thing party-less government is a new and peculiar political lexicon in a democratic government which is found only in Nagaland. Politically, this is not at all a healthy development for the future of Nagaland. Should the Naga leaders, both overground and underground, truthfully and sincerely work for an objective that is real, things will begin to get out of their muddles. Chasing mirage will create more and more confusions in their minds as well as the people.
Pages of yesterday cannot be revived because millions of yesterdays have merged into eternity but today and tomorrow are still in our hands and both the pages are blank. It is entirely up to us to decide what kind of history should we write on these pages? Proverbs 14:34. : “Righteousness exalted a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people”. For a better and regenerated Nagaland, Truth must be the cornerstone. Nothing so common now-a-days in Nagaland as to hear from different sections of the community such as Church leaders, politicians and educated men and women, advocating eloquently the cause of truth, duty and reformation but in reality noting is noticeable in human society. It is difficult to make out how many of them really feel and faith in their hearts of what they say to be the right way! The hour of trials over the years have proved that the zeal with which leaders have exhibited for the cause of the people is viewed in mere vapory sentimentalism. The people are silently watching how many intellectuals and leaders of different political colours have been converted into moral pigmies under the overpowering weight of materialism and how strikingly their boasted sense of truth has melted away into nothingness.
There is a tremendous realization in the minds of the majority of the people of Nagaland that chasing a mirage shall neither redeem nor salvage the people of Nagaland. They are anxiously waiting for a new dawn wherein Naga polity can measure up with the rest of the civilized society. While designing and fashioning the future, we should also remember that the past cannot be the ruler of the present and also the new concept of the polity must give way to something higher and better and more in keeping with contemporary realities. It is of utmost importance to Nagas to harmonize, if possible, such conflicting opinions and hopes and determine, honestly and dispassionately, where all of them should unite for the common goal and to enable the hearts and minds of contending groups or parties may be brought together and made to pursue the common path which leads to better and brighter future of Nagaland.
The leadership of the Nagas should be guided by realism and pragmatism while fashioning the future of Nagaland. Geographical location, size of the area, population, resources and man power, etc., should be taken into account while working out to build the State of Nagaland. It has been the common error in the past that many a time, we generally speculate about the future, we dwell more on what men wish than what facts warrant. It will never help achieve the goal or help to soar into the height of fancy and behold, grand and magnificient, adorned with all the riches of colours available under the sun which are our imagination could conjure up. It is time perhaps to keep ourselves grounded to realities of contemporary settings. We ought to avoid all imagining schemes and poetical sentiments; we are to be guided by the light of facts as available around us. It will be foolish to speculate about the future without the aid of the past, for it is only from induction of facts which have actually happened that we can devise with tolerable accuracy what may happen in future.
What are the stark realities of the present political quagmire in Nagaland? There are multiple factions of the underground but all of them spring up originally from the one and the same root, but soon branched off in different and opposite directions. All of them born of the same parentage, they vary in the course of their development according to the influence they respectively received. Some of them have to borrow from Chinese political ideology: ” Power emanate from the barrel of the gun”. More than 20 years ago, may be at the appointed time, political wisdom dawn in the minds of the underground leadership to find and explore an honourable political settlement and subsequently ceasefire was declared in 1997 to embark on negotiations with the GOI for a final settlement. After years of discussions and deliberations at different times and places, it was mutually agreed between the Government of India and the underground groups to commit all the agreed points into writing to be the basis of formal political agreements to bring the Naga political problem to a logical conclusion. Accordingly Frame Work Agreement of 3rd August 2015 between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India was signed in the presence of the PM Narendra Modi, HM Rajnath Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and on the other side by none other than Th. Muivah, the General Secretary of the NSCN (IM) and late Isac Swu, President of the NSCN (IM) also appended his signature on the body of the said agreement from his sick bed. Another agreement known as Agreed Position was signed on 17.11.2017 between the GOI and the NNPGs. All these exercises were made after thorough discussions and considerations of all political implications. Lastly, its significance is the unanimity at the time of signing the agreements. The public of Nagaland will surely presume that the two agreements were signed consciously and with full knowledge and understanding of its contents. Moreover, under the contemporary political realities, the agreements would serve the best interests of the people of Nagaland and the country.
Notable commitments of the GOI
1. The Prime Minister of India had said that Naga problem would be resolved within 18 months. Accordingly to demonstrate that spirit and commitment two agreements were signed.
2. In the last Nagaland Assembly election in 2018 the BJP had categorically and publicly announced “Election for solution”. Even though another election of 2023 has been already completed and a new Government has been formed, this declaration is yet to see the light of the day.
3. The sanctity of the two agreements needs to be respected by the signatories. Political agreements once officially signed, should be implemented both in letter and spirit. Extraneous issues should not overshadow the sanctity of the agreement.
4. Time has come that any pious fraud which is hindering the peace process requires to be shown up in its true colors and its evil effect and design exposed, that it may be publicly proscribed and execrated. It is awful to contemplate the gravity and magnitude of the deception itself, and the amount of damage done to the morality of the Naga polity.
Now that a new Government is on the saddle with fresh mandate from the people of Nagaland, the people are expecting that with the full and solid backing of this new Government both the GOI and the Naga Underground to finally resolve the Naga political problem within a timeframe. A unanimous resolution of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly will be the legitimate voice of the people of Nagaland to urge the signatories of the two previous agreements to come forward and ink the final agreement for a lasting solution.