The stage is set. Nagaland will go to polls on February 27, as scheduled by the Election Commission of India. In other words the boycott call rung out by the Core Committee of Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations (CCNTHCO) has failed to cut ice with the people, best exemplified by the rejection of the boycott call as well as the Statewide 12 hours bandh on February 1 by 8 major tribes of Nagaland. It is in sensing this reality that the ruling NPF and the BJP have decided to contest the scheduled election and not go ahead with the boycott call. This new development must have come as some sort of a relief to the Nagaland unit of the BJP, for remember the party was in a dicey position after the Central unit of the BJP decided to participate in the election. But now with eight major tribes stating its open stand on the boycott call, the Nagaland unit of the BJP has decided to go ahead and take part in the Assembly election. The important question is where does this leave the slogan ‘Solution before Election’ ? Not that holding the election will impact on the ongoing political dialogue between the NSCN (IM), NNPGs and the Government of India, but in going ahead with the election, New Delhi has delivered an important point. It must have also managed to gauge the acceptability of the writs and diktats of the armed groups in Nagaland. This however does not answer the question of whether the scheduled election will pass off peacefully or not. Will there be violence in the run up to the election is a question that will worry the people. To be sure the Government will go ahead and deploy as many security personnel as possible but anything can happen and this is what is unsettling.
It is not a case of New Delhi having scored a point or two over the armed groups in Nagaland, particularly the NSCN (IM), but Delhi has delivered an important point. What the Constitution lays down, it will be followed, is the point that has been rung out loud and clear and this is what is interesting especially in the backdrop of the declaration ‘Solution is about the future of the Nagas, while election is about the Indian Constitution’ from senior NSCN (IM) leader Rh Raising. There is a reason why the Nagaland Assembly election has evoked so much interest in The Sangai Express for after all the election appears to be closely linked to the ongoing political negotiations between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM). And it stands that any deal struck between the two entities will evoke much interest in Manipur and the two other States, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The interest is not so much as to which political party will form the next Government at Kohima, but how much the election will reflect on the political dialogue between New Delhi and the NSCN (IM). This is the reason why the boycott call, its rejection by 8 major tribes, the stand of the political parties, especially the BJP and the NPF, the stand of the NSCN (IM) and the NNPGs as well as the stand of the other civil society organisations, spearheaded by the CCNTHCO, occupied prime space in The Sangai Express.
The Sangai Express Editorial