by Jubilate Kazingmei
The hill, valley divide in Manipur owing to development disparity has already reached a point of territorial disintegration of the state and the United Naga Council has often voiced for severing political ties with Manipur and has been pleading with the Govt. of India for an alternative arrangement. In the meantime other tribes have also been harping for a separate state of their own.
The Autonomous District Council (ADC) in the hills were kept under animated suspension for 20 long years which was amended in 2008 and election to the District Councils was announced in 2010. The UNC protested and demanded for withdrawal of the ADC Amendment Bill 2008 and sought for sharing more powers to the ADCs. Election conducted in May 2010 was boycotted by the Nagas in the midst of which the congress Govt. in the state arbitrarily declared their candidates elected uncontested but unable to assume office for the past 8 months now. On ground of perceived threat to the lives of councilors they have been shifted to Imphal from all Naga dominated districts which will mean that the local body of governance will not be accessible to the rural poor in their respective districts defeating its purpose. Whereas, the guideline says that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the council (renamed as Chief Executive Director) has to be an IAS officer, for want of IAS officers in the state, ADCs are placed under the CEOs some of whom are clerical staff promoted as Account Officers and then as CEOs with questionable competence. An order has been issued by the state authority to hand over DRDAs to the ADC stripping all financial powers of the Deputy Commissioners who are competent IAS officers.
Incompetence, corrupt practices and lack of professional ethics were the main reasons for placing the ADCs under animated suspension earlier and may warrant repeating it again. ATSUM’s demand for reverting the order in favour of Deputy Commissioner’s reflect this apprehension. The perceived threat from the NSCN (I-M) may not hold the truth as the armed groups of the Nagas are trying to bring solution to the Naga problem through negotiation and the leadership is based in Delhi at present. It is also not realistic that the group will take the risk of violating the ceasefire ground rules merely sharing powers to the ADCs. Therefore, statements made by their leadership in support of the boycott call may be but to capitalize people’s emotion if not to intimidate and bargain. Even United Naga Council (UNC) is a Civil Society Organization (CSO) which believes in resolving problems through democratic processes and therefore, apprehension of risk from this legitimate group is not realistic either. Infact, the prevailing situation of socio-political unrest engulfs the entire state with 48 militant groups. Everyone is on the run – running for life – Directors, Engineers, Doctors, Contractors and every successful professional and businessmen can neither work peacefully nor sleep peacefully due to insecurity of life down to the common men and Imphal is hardly an exception. If the ADC office is to be shifted to the valley for reasons of perceived threat, then the office of the Deputy Commissioner and every departmental office is not without such threat and if Govt. machineries cannot function for fear of such threats, the situation rather warrants constitutional emergency in the state. Shifting the council office to Imphal is not solution to the prevailing socio political impasse. The State Govt. is determined to go ahead with the order as Ibobi and his team finds it as an effective tool to divide the Nagas. As for the councilors the logic may be that opportunity comes in one’s life time and success or failure in life depends on the ability to take the opportunity or miss it. Placing loyalty to the party in the midst of boycott of the election by the people mean’s they do not represent the people therefore, declaring them elected uncontested may be even termed as nominated and hence unconstitutional.
The efforts of NSCN (IM) and UNC to build a shared view on Naga politics is appreciated. The vision is right but they seem to be doing the right thing in a wrong way. Influencing people by compliance rather than by a process of political education is basically wrong. The elected candidates supported by UNC and NSCN signing an undertaking with the Govt. of Manipur that they will uphold the territorial integrity of the state, makes the Naga campaign a mockery. The elected MP supported by them taking oath in the name of God that he will uphold the integrity and sovereignty of Indian contradicts the aspiration of the Nagas. We are celebrating 14th August as Naga independence day every year and yet even the NSCN (IM) is now selling up its own candidates in India elections which means we are admitting what we did 64 years ago was a mistake. Nationalist organization receiving money from candidate is perceived as putting Naga nationalism on sale. In such a situation of confusion, self contradiction and eroding credibility people naturally choose to go by ones own conscience. Every Naga is a Naga nothing less or more and as long as the stake is an issue of Naga freedom every Naga will support but if the issue is projected as conflict between Nagas and Nagas or power politics of the leadership or factions, then we are not with it not necessarily being anti national.