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Opposition NPF attacks Governor’s speech

Correspondent KOHIMA, MAR 23 (NPN)
Published on 24 Mar. 2018 12:43 AM IST
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In what promises to be a marked change in the assembly which will now have a strong opposition boasting of 26 legislators, the opposition members on Friday took on the government over the speech of Governor P.B. Acharya who stated that “my government has come back to power” by reminding that there was a previous government on three terms under the nomenclature DAN.
It may be recalled that in his inaugural speech to the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly, on March 22, Acharya had stated “my government has come back to power with people’s mandate on the promise of bringing change to Nagaland as a common vision of the political parties forming an alliance”.
Hitting out on the issue during the debate on the motion of thanks to governor’s address, NPF legislator Imkong L Imchen recalled that the DAN government was in power from 2003 to February 2018 while the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) was a new government. Thus, he said there was no reason for the Governor to have used the words “my government had returned to power”.
Also raising the issue of violence and atrocities meted to Christian community in different parts of the country, Imchen questioned the treasury bench whether this could be termed as peace as the governor had mentioned in his speech.
Asserting that India was a secular country and that the Nagas protected followers of other religions in the State, he demanded that the same treatment was expected from other States and the Central government as well.
Imchen further questioned the deduction of one day’s wage from government employees for Chief Secretary’s Welfare Fund and declared that no one had the right to deduct someone’s hard-earned money in the name of transparency and accountability.
Stating that deducting by force was tantamount to criminal act, he asked the chief minister to look into the issue, adding that there were already many deductions being made from the salaries of State government employees.
On Naga political issue, Imchen said so far the Nagas had avoided defining what constituted honourable, acceptable and sustainable settlement.
He said the governor’s address was not appreciative.
On his part, Kuzholuzo (Azo) Nienu said it was premature to criticise the PDA government. He, however, added that the government was moving in the wrong direction. Criticizing governor’s speech, Azo said how could the highest office in the State commit such an error and reminded the House that DAN government had ruled the State for the last three consecutive terms.
He asked the bureaucrats and those officials responsible in drafting the speech to be more careful, adding that such mistakes misled the people. Azo also questioned whether it was NDPP-led government or a BJP-led one, stating that both the people as well elected members were confused. 
He said, if it was an NDPP-led government, then why only four members from the party were accommodated in the cabinet.
On NDPP’s slogan “Change is Coming”, Azo said some changes were already visible, starting from the swearing in ceremony when the event was held at a local ground with songs for the first time.
Clarifying that constitution did not provide songs or speeches in oath-taking ceremony, he said it was not a good sign.
According to Azo, the second change was visible when the members were locked at Hotel Vivor, right after the induction programme and said the reason was best known to the leaders.
He also sought to know from the government why there was delay in allotting portfolios to ministers more than two weeks after the swearing-in, and demanded that the cabinet members be given their portfolios to allow them to do their tasks. 
On curtailing VIP culture, Azo questioned about the pilot and escort vehicles that were parked in NLA complex and said, if the PDA government really wished to remove the VIP culture, then it should include the chief minister and MLAs alike as all members were equal, having people’s mandate.
The MLA said change for worse would have a negative impact and posterity would blame the leaders, adding the Nagas were not looking for such changes but a change in attitude and behaviour.
Lauding Higher & Technical Education minister for riding a bike to office and eating street food, he said such behaviours should be encouraged and demanded that all the 11 ministers should be given bikes. He, however, asked the minister not to do it for the sake of getting publicity, but to continue doing the same for the next five years so that people would appreciate.
He said that many members elected for the first time talked like as though they were very clean, however the moment they joined NLA, the freshers became worse than old timers because of the corrupt system.
Azo stressed reforming the system like issuing work orders and supply orders, reformation of appointment without any bias, timely payment and said all these fell under the category of transparency and accountability.
He also insisted that finance department should do away with cuts and percentage and release money based on performance of works.
On the cabinet decision to declare elected members’ assets, the MLA said politicians should not be the only ones to declare and that the same should apply to bureaucrats, adding that they were richer than the politicians.
He said the opposition members would support the issue if the treasury bench remained true to their words and practised what they preached.
On the governor’s remark of resolving Naga political issue within six months, Azo called for a more realistic approach and questioned whether the members in treasury bench were prepared to vacate their position if a solution was arrived at.
For, he remarked, the opposition members were all prepared to pave way if an honourable and acceptable solution was arrived at.
Azo termed the governor’s address as misleading and disturbing and said the address must be realistic in future.
Speaking on the motion, legislator CL John said the oath-taking ceremony was more or less like a political party’s general convention or general conference of a students’ body.
He exhorted Higher & Technical Education minister to continue the good work and ride bike to office for five years so that he could be appreciated by the Nagas and other cabinet members followed suit, reminding that whatever started well must end well.
John also asked leader of the House to present an annual report on the amount saved by doing away with the VIP culture. Stating that the current PDA government was like “Old wine in new bottle”, he sarcastically remarked that there were possibilities of the parties coming under one platform.
John pointed out that governor congratulating state election office was not proper because the department did not perform well and cited the instances of 6 Tening constituency where both the candidates were certified as winners.
On his part, Yitachu said the governor’s speech was disturbing as Acharya could not count the actual number of new entrants and mentioned only 15 whereas it was 17.
He remarked if the governor could not see the 60 MLAs, he would not see the 19 lakh State’s population.
Yitachu also reminded the House that it was PDA government that was in power and not DAN. He pointed out that the governor had not mentioned a word about the new government in his speech and asked how he could draft the address so carelessly, which only showed “nervousness”.
Referring to the governor’s comment about Naga solution in six months, the MLA said the august House expected Acharya to be specific in his address. He, however, regretted that not a word about the timeframe was mentioned.
Yitachu said BJP, which was part of the PDA government, had promised the Nagas with “Election for solution”. He said the activities of PDA government in Delhi were being closely monitored, however there was no forward movement on the Naga issue thus far. 
The MLA also insisted moving a resolution against the atrocities being committed against Christians in India and requesting the Central government to be more vigilant and protect secular character of the country in letter and spirit.
Planning & Co-ordination minister Neiba Kronu, Law & Justice advisor Dr Longriniken and EE Pangteang also participated in the debate.

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