How is the electorate in Nagaland going to vote in the forthcoming elections to the Lok Sabha? The answer will manifest itself when voters exercise their franchise. Towards this end much will depend on the respective strategies devised by the various political parties in our State. Of more crucial importance is that the poll results will affect exponentially the overall Naga political issue and aspirations. .
But first, let us zoom over to the mainland peninsula where all national political parties as also regional ones concerned are already on the move to contribute their might, and mite, to the Central Govt. pie that will be baked by the nation’s electorate. How this will come to pass is at the moment mostly speculative. What is certain, however, is that Congress and other like-minded parties are gearing up with the main aim and objective to oust the BJP-led Govt. at the Centre from power. However, the formation of a Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) is yet to be formed. One of the reasons could be because they are yet to come to a consensus as to who they would like to project as the Prime Minister in waiting versus the incumbent Narendra Modi.
Perhaps, they are also holding cards close to the chest so that they can employ more bargaining power depending on the performance of their respective parties. Some quarters have already vouchsafed for Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Of course, there are other capable stalwarts like Sharad Pawar (NCP), Mamata Bannerjee (TMC), or Mayawàti (BSP) who have also had experience as Central Ministers. Freshly appointed general secretary of Congress Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in-charge of Eastern U.P. has been acclaimed by party workers.
What is equally certain also is that the BJP will go all out to win the polls by whatsoever means possible. True it is, the NDA Govt. has initiated laudable schemes on a few of the numerous projects it has set in motion. Prime Minister Modi’s (developed) relationship with leaders of major countries the world over and his “Make in India” project has been no less impressive.
That being so, yet it is being harassed over the Rafale jet deal continuously, There is the ongoing farmers’ distress and countless suicides and mass protests, cow vigilantes on the loose, rape and murder of minor girls, Modi’s failure to provide 2 crore jobs mainly to the youths and Rs 15 lakh to each family, citizen’s amendment bill (CÀB), demonetization and its adverse effects on medium and small scale business and departure of two highly qualified directors of Reserve Bank of India (RBI), GST, the imbroglio in the central bureau of investigation (CBI), bank scams, Central Govt.’s vying into RBI cash reserves and assets, cost of fuel rising and falling every few days etc. etc. have left much to be concerned about.
Be that as it may, the pros and cons of the BJP’s performance are there for all to see and determine. Accordingly, what must concern the electorate in Nagaland is who we will vote for this time. In the last Lok Sabha elections a year ago, NDPP candidate Tokheho Yepthomi won against NPF’s C. Àpok Jamir. The Nagaland BJP tacitly supported its ally while Congress extended full support to its former adversary the NPF.
Now, the parties intending to enter the fray will be NDPP, NPF and Congress. The BJP, no doubt, will wait on the sidelines biding it’s time. The Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) has been energised, and galvanised, by the Congress victory in Ràjasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgàrh preceded by Congress-led coalition in Karnataka. Its President K. Therie has said that it is prepared to reconcile members who had left the party for various reasons in recent years. Also, he has expressed willingness to reach an understanding with like-minded local parties, NGOs and civil society organisations (CSOs) in order to remove the “communal” BJP from power. The Church organisations of whichever denominations are also an influential forum.
It may be here mentioned that if we elect a Member of Parliament (MP) from a regional party, he or she would as usual be relegated to the back seats in Parliament. Also, if he/she wishes to put across something, it has to be a typed one-pager of not more than 650 words and will be given only a couple of minutes to speak. The same criteria will be applied to any Independent candidate, unless of course, the overall poll results are very closely tied and he/she may get a slot in a Union ministry which denouement is highly unlikely.
If, on the other hand, a candidate is a member of a major party, then he/she will have its support and will be given more time to convey in Parliament the problems and unresolved political aspirations of the Naga people in a forceful and convincing way and which will be compelled to be taken seriously—and hopefully acted upon without delay. Hitherto, neither MP in either Lok Sabha or Ràjya Sabha has been able to put across Naga political aspirations in the full sense of the term.
Perhaps, the NPF which held power for three consecutive terms, and came a strong Opposition with 26 seats (out of 60) in the 2018 Assembly general elections, could rally behind a major national party like Congress or any other party which is a strong contender at the national level. NPF can still enthuse the electorate a majority of who are in favour of any Non-BJP power.
It also follows that the present NDPP-led PDA Govt. must consider and redefine the concept of facilitator. It has to be more than a mere facilitator. Whatever their political affiliations, all 60 Members of our Legislative Assembly along with the two MPs represent majority of Nagas under India and are also the voice of the people in the House and Parliament. The Ruling and Opposition Members must never forget that they are to unite us as a people for peace development and progress, not divide. Sadly, sometimes they seem to forget or simply ignore this.
Therefore, it is also the bounden duty of our Hon’ble Members to firmly and determinedly impress upon the NSCN (IM) and brethren of the several Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) to unite on a common platform. Unfortunately, they had split like that of an amoeba replicating itself over and over. An undivided united front along with our Legislators and MPs actively participating in cohesion while dealing with Govt. of India collectively (not separately) will then be much more than just facilitating role. After all, our goals are one and the same.
For, “Any country that divides itself into groups which fight against each other will not last long. And any town or family that divides itself into groups which fight each other, will fall apart.” (Mathew 12:25)).
Also, “When a strong man, with all his weapons ready, guards his own home, all his belongings are safe. But when a stronger man attacks him and defeats him, he carries away all the weapons the owner was depending on and divides up what he stole” (Luke 11:21).
Govt. of India has been clearly categorical that Naga sovereignty and integration of contiguous Naga-inhabited areas in Manipur, Assembly and Arunachal Pradesh are out of question. Any solution must be within the ambit of the India of Constitution. Fine. Just keep in mind that it can be amended in the not too distant future —- hopefully. In fact, Nagaland was incorporated as the 16th State of the Indian Union through an Act of Parliament. So then, who knows?
Herein I would like to add that regarding our brethren in Myanmar, this has international ramifications and so has to be addressed through another perspective. Therein lays the rub in the Naga saga!
Basically, we must try and understand Govt. of India’s point of view. One main point is geostrategic vis-a-vis neighbours big China and medium Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Also, we have huge natural resources such as oil, gas, coal, timber, bamboo, precious and semi precious stones etc which have a great potential for further exploration and commercial exploitation.
Thus, we have to elect a Member of Parliament who will have the requisite abilities with unimpeachable character to focus on ways and means that will at least satisfy all sections of people to some extent or the other. The task before him, or her, will be stupendous.
Nothing in life is perfect and so also are man-made laws. Nevertheless, many things are as best as possible provided we give and take or, as they say in Hindi ‘lena dena’ (take and give) —-both phrases being two sides of the same coin—-in a manner that all sections are reasonably satisfied without adhering to rigid, parochial and uncompromising stands. Our heritage is unique and we should be proud of it to the point of defending our cultural traditions and customary laws. Nevertheless, we must also move on along with the times particularly when the entire world has become a global village since recent years. Dialogue versus dialogue in a civilised way followed by positive action—all within the ambit of the Constitution of India. Hopefully, it will not be like Modi’s (unfulfilled) promise to solve the Naga issue within 18 months after coming to power in 2014. Nor should it be like the over two decades of negotiations, Framework Agreement and whatever else about which the general Naga public is unaware of.
As Christians, instead of punching holes in the walls of other ideologies, we can all pray to the Almighty Creator to endow Indian leaders of whichever religious and political persuasion or adherence, with Solomon-like wisdom so that they will be even more considerate and receptive of Naga political aspirations and will do the needful ASAP.
Then, my fellow Naga sisters and brothers, our indomitable spirit will never be vanquished and our honour remains intact. And, come to think of it, as every day is, to all intents and purposes, the beginning of a New Year, let us resolve to make 2019 the most memorable in the annals of Naga History. By voting for the right person to the Lok Sabha.
Jack T.Chakhesang, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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