By Oken Jeet Sandham
When a new Governor is appointed for a State, he is perceived to check the governance in that state. But people’s suspicion grows on his or her appointment as Governor if the Center does not have a like-minded Government in that state. The perception is they would start working against the interest of that state government.
I had seen 12 Governors of Nagaland starting from Gen (Retd) KV Krishna Rao and I was privileged to have interviewed most of them when they served as Governor of the state. They all put their ideas and also took our ideas on board. Nowhere had I come across any Governor putting things that would hamper the progress of the state and naturally a person of such stature would hardly be expected to do anything inimical to the state’s wellbeing. However, there were occasions where some of the Governors failed to discharge their Constitutional authority, and in fact, their acumen as Governor could only be gauged when there were serious political instabilities in the state.
When former Nagaland Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader SC Jamir was sent as Governor of Goa where the government was run by the BJP, sections of regional and mainstream intelligentsia and political pundits simply shrugged it off presuming, “what this man from northeast India will do in a state which is far more progressive in many ways.” But it did not take long for this veteran Naga Congress leader to see the BJP government in Goa plunging into unprecedented political crisis. He recommended President’s Rule but later the state assembly was placed under suspended animation amidst widespread protests by the BJP. The matter was also hotly debated on the floor of Parliament. BJP leader LK Advani termed Jamir’s action as “murder of democracy,” while the latter justified his action as “protecting Constitution.”
Jamir also later became Governor of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Now he is Governor of Odisha.
All past Governors of Nagaland had closely monitored the Naga peace process. Former Nagaland Governor Shyamal Datta was perhaps lucky that when he was IB chief, he was part of the Center’s team who held talks with the representatives of the NSCN (IM). Soon after his retirement from the IB, he was sent as Governor of Nagaland. Many thought otherwise on his appointment as Governor of Nagaland because of his IB background, yet later he became the darling of the Naga people. In fact, he is one of the most popular Governors of Nagaland since the state got Statehood in 1963.
Now we have new Nagaland Governor Dr Ashwani Kumar who was chief of the CBI. He has come here when the state is enjoying relative peace. When interacting with the state media on March 23, on a query that how he would take the Naga issue forward from the present stage, his reply was he would need some time to study the nitty-gritty of the Naga political issue before sharing his mind with. But he appeared to be more interested in educational sectors, besides explaining how to eradicate the web of corruptions from the state. His three-point approach towards eradicating corruptions from the state was well taken by the media persons present. He said the family, schools and colleges and the society had roles to play to end corruption in the society. The interaction with the state media was basically to know more about what was happening in the state. And the new Governor certainly needs to know what the state is all about and he can be fed accurately by the media only.
He was also informed about the pathetic educational environment particularly in the remote and backward areas of the state where students did not get their text books and uniforms on time and the mid-day meal issues. There are schools in the state where 2 to 3 teachers have been manning and also how the students had to appear their final exams without seeing their text books once in the past. No doubt education department is plagued with many scams.
Nagaland is yet to have a Medical College, Engineering College, etc. but it is celebrating its “Golden Jubilee” this year. But the confusion is that when I had an opportunity to interview with one of the top officials of the Union Government at Delhi for not giving a Medical College in Nagaland, he said it wasn’t a problem but the Nagaland Government should provide land for the College. Here, during the last election campaigns, the Chief Minister, however, blamed the Center for not giving a Medical College or for that matter an Engineering College to Nagaland. The state government needs to clarify on this.
The Nagaland University also had the history of facing agitations and academic careers of students were put at stake many a time. We have one so-called Global University but its activities are hardly heard of. Whereas neighboring States are far ahead of Nagaland in many areas and the only pride we have is our “highest literacy” tag.
There were many retired Army Generals, DGPs, IB and CBI chiefs, etc. who became Governors of the states. We know a person ceases to be politician as and when he takes oath as Governor even if he comes from any political background. But he is not prevented from speaking or working for the interest and wellbeing of the citizens of the state where he or she serves as a Governor. We also had witnessed some of the Governors in this region where they had to question the roles of the Chief Ministers when their actions were found detrimental to the citizens and the health of the country.
Governor Dr Ashwani Kumar seemed to be candid and having some agendas for the people of the state. Although he expressed his willingness to improve and upgrade educational sectors but I honestly feel that there is hardly any logic to talk all these now when you don’t have even a Medical College, Engineering College, etc. even after 50 years of Nagaland statehood.
So I personally feel that instead of focusing on other areas, though important, why not he starts working to get at least a Medical College for the state during his tenure as a Governor of Nagaland. If this dream is realized during his gubernatorial tenure, he will be remembered differently unlike his predecessors. Expressing pains at not seeing what it should have will not work unless you work to see them happening. Of course, we are yet to know what he should do for the state in the next five years.