The overlapping mistakes are the concern

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Vide Letter No.281/DEL/2020 dated 29th May, 2020 of the Election Commission of India, the State of Nagaland was directed to take necessary initiatives for the Delimitation of the Assembly constituencies in Nagaland. Accordingly, the election Department of Nagaland has served notice to the 11 DCs including the ADC of Phugoboto to submit respective Census data of 2001 latest by 15.6.2020 vide order No.ELE/DELI-2/2020 dated, Kohima, the 4th June, 2020. As per the given directives, the Delimitation Commission of India is set to carry out the exercises of delimitation in Nagaland along with the other 3 States, namely, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur which were exempted in the last delimitation that took place in 2008 in India.

Meanwhile, it is found that the State Government has raised objection to the scheduled delimitation citing few reasons in written to the concerned authorities and sought for deferment. The State Govt. is bound to adopt that posture for the very reason that these elected leaders who were at the helm of the previous Govt. had officially sought for rectification of 2001 Census prior to delimitation by the Assembly resolution adopted on 18.5.2005. Besides, there arose varied opinions of the tribal bodies on the issue of the ongoing delimitation whereby initially the 11 tribal bodies are against and the other 3 are for it. Meanwhile, the other 3 seem to have gained more companions in due course of time. It is obvious that the 14 tribes of Nagaland cannot have consensus on the issue. Both the groups have its own justifications and none of which cannot be brushed aside. It is undemocratic to suppress the right of anyone and therefore better allow each group to have the liberty to pursue its demand from the competent authorities.

When the delimitation in Nagaland was done in 1972, some 48 years ago taking 1971 Census as the basis, the important human factors were not perhaps taken into consideration. And under such circumstance, some of the Districts were marginalized due to disproportionate Assembly seat sharing out of political manipulation. One can imagine the magnitude of loss caused to the victimized section in terms of development and opportunities normally enjoyed by a constituency when one Assembly seat was denied to that section of people for half a century. What size of a gap could be created in terms of physical development and employment between the two sections of people, the people who lost the seat and the people who gained the seat. Disproportionate representation begets disproportionate developments. Half a century is a long time, and the victimized section being caged to enjoy hardly 50% or less of such Govt. facilities of the undeservedly privileged section all through those decades and had to remain in backwardness. Thus, the discriminatory delimitation of Assembly seats 48 years ago brought immense disparity amongst the stakeholders of the State of Nagaland in respect of development and job opportunities.

Whereas, when the aforementioned Delimitation Notification has to be based on 2001 Census figure, the exercise becomes contentious. We all know the detail history of how 2001 Census was carried out in Nagaland and the consequences of the resulted figures of the very census. It is therefore better not irritate one another by the highlights of those erroneous data. The Chakhesang Public Organization (CPO)objected those unrealistic and manipulated figures of 2001 Census. The CPO eventually filed PIL in the principal bench of Guwahati High Court which passed its interim order challenging the validity of 2001 Census. The CPO finally filed the same PIL in Supreme Court of India as compelled and due to the favorable intervention of the highest court the 2008 Delimitation in Nagaland was deferred.

Nevertheless, it is imperative that what wrongs being allowed to remain for decades all through are rectified. Whereas, such an opportunity for correction in respect of disproportionate sharing of Assembly seats comes only by Delimitation. Therefore, delimitation has to be implemented in Nagaland only through which equitable sharing of Govt. facilities amongst the stakeholders can be ensured. Yet, the scheduled delimitation has to be based on noncontroversial and legally right census data by which the existing discrepancies are corrected.However, when the controversial census data is used as the basis for the said exercise, the history of the previous discriminatory delimitation will be repeated. In the interest of all, we better avoid committing overlapping mistakes.  What I stand for is that the rational and the honest section of our people should not be further allowed to remain as the victim of any manipulation post the next delimitation. Have the delimitation by taking the correct Census figure as the basis. All the indigenous Naga tribes are the equal shareholders of Nagaland, and accordingly the proposed delimitation has to bring about very proportionate distribution of seats to the satisfaction of all.

No matter how convincing the statement of one may be in the media, it may not necessarily fetch the desired dividend in the related issue in particular. We all know that only the competent authority will decide on every contentious issue relating to delimitation. I feel that the 14 Naga tribes remain liberal and allow anyone who feels mistreated to go and seek for redressal legally. While Nagaland is needing the most cordial intertribal cohesion amongst the indigenous tribes at this very moment in the light of the prevailing situation, how good it will be if unwarranted paper duels and provocative comments are restricted.

Meanwhile, my personal attention is drawn to a statement of the esteem Lotha Hoho published in local papers dated 12.6.2020 and I quote the sentence “Such being the discrepancy in distribution of Assembly seats among the districts, the victimized districts cannot always say ‘Yes’ to those unscrupulous elements who also managed to dislodge the proposed Delimitation of 2001….” Unquote. I understand the sentiment of the Lotha Hoho well in this respect as I too belong to a district which was equally discriminated some 48 years ago. As a matter of fact, it was the CPO while fighting for retention of its 5 Assembly seats and to retrieve the lost one seat in the Delimitation Act of 2002, went to courts as the aforementioned. Whereas, the Ministry Law & Justice, GOI by its Order No.S.O. 285(E) dated 8.2.2008 made it very clear that it was because of the PIL filed by CPO, the delimitation of 2008 in Nagaland could not be carried out but deferred as approved by the President of India. Whereas, though the respected Lotha Hoho did not specifically name CPO, it was obvious that the CPO was largely responsible for the deferment. While not naming CPO, the word ‘unscrupulous elements’ are used to denote whoever was responsible for the deferment. And everyone knows the literal meaning of ‘unscrupulous’ is unprincipled, immoral and contemptuous of what is right or honorable according to my dictionaries. The CPO would have deserved to be branded as ‘unscrupulous’had its PIL in question failed to convince the highest courts in the country and yet the end result was otherwise. I therefore refused to accept the charge that stalling the last delimitation by CPO was due to its immorality or contemptuousness. Indeed, the CPO did it in its right mind with the right conscience and in the best interest of justice. This piece of reaction is personal.

Z Lohe

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