Thursday, March 30, 2023
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Who is not provoking Rio Govt.? Good Luck and Good Hunting!

Neiphiu Rio

Nirendra Dev
NEW DELHI, MARCH 18: It was February 28, 1948, the last British platoons were moving out marking the end of colonial era in India and Lt Col. John Platt had received a telegram that read: “Goodbye. Good Luck, Good Hunting”.
Is such a dramatization necessary to drive home the point on what should be the roadmap
of Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his newly installed ‘NDPP-BJP’ dispensation?
The thought about this piece had struck me while I was returning from Nagaland having stayed a few days during the election campaign. Stranded at contested Guwahati airport, I thought life is most often being in transit ~ you are stuck up at the airport. The present is focused on building a ‘future’, and when that future comes, it is actually ‘another present’ trying to focus on another tomorrow.
Rio and his team of ministerial colleagues and legislators will appreciate my point perhaps much more easily. In fact, the truth is the present political leadership and the advisors are trying to take advantage of this paradox of life. They may not produce any fruit or result but the situation is such that they can always promise the moon.
People on board the Boleros and with newly earned pocket money will swallow it ~ at least this is what many think. The important point politically is that in New Delhi, the political bosses are too busy with Mission 2024 and Rahul Gandhi. Yet Prime Minister Narendra Modi will do a yeoman’s service to himself and his own reputation if he cares not to allow such old games ~ called the ‘Opposition less government’.
For all practical purposes, the last ‘opposition-less government’ achieved nothing. Journalism is basically showing the mirror and at the risk of repeating oneself we are showing fingers at the truth; even if it is painful and bitter at times.
The voters of Nagaland have shown trust in 37 legislators ~ 25 from Rio’s party and 12 from the BJP ~ to be on the Treasury Bench. The mandate for rest 23 is to be on the other side of the divide. Any tweaking of this mandate is a mockery of the system however smartly it is done. It will also make a mockery of the Prime Minister’s own reputation.
Parliamentary democracy has room for opposition lawmakers trying to topple the Government in power ~ at least this has prevailed for long. But the exercise of ‘opposition-less’ is something not to be encouraged.
At the Dimapur rally on February 24, Modi promised to fight extortion and he also said he will try to fulfill his promises made to the Gaon Burrahs. From Modi’s perspective ~ a hardcore ear-on-the-ground politician that he is ~ Naga village elders matter more perhaps more than other self-styled champions among stakeholders.
Former Chief Minister KL Chishi was too blunt when he said in an interview to Nagaland Page that the concept of opposition-less government is anti-democratic. A group of elected legislators from different parties reportedly conclaved and ‘discussed over phone’ that such a statement from a non-MLA former Chief Minister was uncalled for. But there are a few others who privately agree there is merit in allowing a government to run by itself and other MLAs ought to sit in the Opposition Bench and hold those in the Treasury Bench and Government officials accountable.
A point hardly understood is that an opposition-less regime also makes Babus feel ‘safe’ from any major embarrassment.
Whether opposition-less government or not, it is understood that Chief Minister Rio will be expected to deliver on peace talks. Now let us assume Rio’s persuasion works and there is again an opposition-less government. So we may get another master-piece creation called the Core Committee.
And yes, the panel will occasionally air dash to Delhi and meet the likes of AK Mishra. But will it achieve its target?
More importantly, we have to examine what the real stakeholders in peace talks the NSCN-IM and NNPG will do. One of them may like Rio and his fanciful ideas but it is possible another group may say: “Enough is enough, let us not waste our time in Kohima. We will talk only to the Government of India”.
N Kitovi Zhimomi’s biggest challenge in the next few months will be to keep the ‘unity’ in the NNPG in a season when everyone may like a Bolero ride. Taking a firm stance vis-à-vis the roadmap to inking of a final peace pact is vital. The Agreed Position is a good piece of draft statement and Prime Minister Modi had allowed the then Governor RN Ravi to work on it.
Secondly, while the BJP leaders at the national level are unhesitatingly claiming that they have returned victorious from the recent Northeast polls, the bitter truth of the story is that the BJP returned to power in Tripura, they maintained same 12 seats win out of 20 in Nagaland and in Meghalaya, they lost 57 seats and could win only 2. One Assembly seat voting was countermanded.
In Nagaland, the BJP vote share has increased marginally to 18.81% from modest 15.3 in 2018. Many BJP leaders admit instead of Meghalaya, Nagaland offered a more promising prospect where the Lotus party could have contested at least 30 seats if not 45 or 60. Staying part of the Rio-led alliance did not help the BJP much and rather it helped Rio save his political career. It also played a significant role in damaging NPF’s poll prospects.
There are other issues at hand but there are only whispers on them. The NCP and the NPP were virtual ‘NDPP-B teams’ blessed by Rio and thus today the Chief Minister is in a ‘trap’. He has to find ways to make everyone happy.
Meanwhile, last but never the least; the NPF issued a statement on March 18 (Saturday) stating that “the role of the present day Government as facilitator for an honourable, acceptable and inclusive solution” to the Naga issue should be “activated”. The NPF is seemingly too busy helping the NDPP. Should we call it Gandhigiri from a regionalist like Shurhozelie?
Before one concludes, I remember a quote from author Dominique Lapierre, who told us in 2009 at Delhi, “Where on earth would be a sea shore where outgoing colonisers would be given a farewell with poignant promise to meet again?” His reference was the grand farewell given to outgoing British platoons in Bombay where Indians including Congressmen and women, some with scar marks on their skulls having beaten by British police, singing Auld Lang Syne.
The phrase Auld Lang Syne translates literally to “old long since” in English and means something akin to “times gone by”. Happy Hunting.