By Oken Jeet Sandham
Now that the NPF crisis has been resolved, the general expectation is development should start taking place in the state. Precious one year has been wasted when Chief Minister TR Zeliang was struggling to save his moribund Ministry.
But all is not going well as dissident leaders could not get back their earlier Ministerial positions even after “Reconciliation” with leaders of NPF (S). This, no doubt, will give a stinging push to the dissident leaders and their colleagues to think manifold politically for a different game in the coming Nagaland Assembly elections due in 2018 if nothing happens in between.
The people have immensely lost their confidence in their representatives this time. They saw how the state government was kept in suspense, and at some point of time, near revolt from the publics were expected when they failed to meet their representatives who remained like captives in different camps.
The other National Political parties like BJP, JD (U) and NCP had no role during the crisis because it was NPF crisis only. The BJP in Nagaland, however, did not keep quiet during the crisis as they realized Zeliang’s clandestine deal with the opposition Congress for securing his “Confidence Motion.” Even after the “Confidence Motion,” the BJP created massive psychological fear that they would not be able to go together with the Congress in the DAN government because of hugely different political ideologies between them. Zeliang inducted the Congress legislators into his Ministry with an explanation that it was their dream to have an “opposition-less” government in the state for the sake of finding permanent and honorable solution to the protracted Naga political issue.
The people of Nagaland had not questioned beleaguered TR when his government remained paralyzed due to unprecedented NPF crisis except urging them to resolve the issue for the larger interest of the people. They were tolerant enough till such time the party leaders resolved the internal crisis of their party. They did not mind of seeing no development during the past one-year shaky rule of the Zeliang ministry.
The people will not, however, go into raptures about such political gimmicks, dramas and canards. They are rather more informed with the ongoing crisis and the status of the Naga political issue. They simply watch the whole tamasa, waiting for the next Assembly elections in the state.
Former Chief Minister and present Member of Parliament Neiphiu Rio ruled Nagaland for eleven years and it will be, of course, not fair comparing with one-year rule of Zeliang. The latter has been in turmoil ever since he took over the reins of government from the former, but one cannot predict, of course, what he can deliver to the people in the coming days as Chief Minister.
Yet, Rio remained undisputed leader in the state and what prompted him to leave the state politics at the beginning of his third tenure as Chief Minister still remains mysterious. To push the early settlement of the Naga political issue and bring more developmental funds to the state were some of his main explanations for going to Delhi as MP. But these reasons were inadequate. He was accused of being the main person for the NPF crisis.
Surprisingly, the people seem more concerned for the next Assembly elections than development. And many siting legislators seem to be feeling uneasiness but clueless. The unusual political environment starts creeping in everywhere stirring many youngsters to come to the fore.
In all the elections in the state, the political parties prominently figured the Naga political issue in their election manifestoes with assurances of their roles for bringing settlement to the issue. Four Nagaland Assembly elections were held after the Government of India declared ceasefire with the NSCN (IM) and in all these elections, all the political parties gave importance for expediting the Naga peace process and early solution to the issue. Yet, solution to the Naga political issue remains elusive and the Government of India still fails to give a time frame for the final settlement to the Naga political issue.
It appears that the people start losing their hope in the leaderships of the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) as none of them is able to provide credible status of their progress.
New political parties may surface to join the next unpredictable Assembly electoral battles and likely to eat into the vitals of other established political parties. The youth, forming major vote shares, will play all in good time, and there may be drastic reduction of money politics in the next Assembly elections. The Naga issue may not attract the youth much in the next Assembly elections as they realize that various political parties have been playing Naga political issue card as election plank.
Chief Minister alone cannot guarantee for the return of his party. It is a team work but the most fractured among the political parties in the state is his only. Although he proudly advocates the concept of his new mysterious political chemistry as “opposition-less or party-less” government, it is just a gimmick, drama and canard as this will not work at the time of Assembly elections because everyone has to file nomination as official candidate of their respective political parties. At the same time, every legislator will have to see his party’s interest is protected and nurtured and they cannot go against the party interest and ideology.
Can all sitting sixty legislators contest the coming Nagaland Assembly elections as “Independent” as per the “theory and mysterious political concept of TR”? No way. If they do this, Election Commission of India (ECI) will freeze the “Cock” Symbol of NPF.
I will leave here with wisdom from Norman Vincent Peale – “Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude towards it, for that determines our success or our failure.”