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Nagaland state election and defective election system
Nsungbemo Ezung, Wokha Town, (    24 Jan. 2018 1:17 AM IST

For New Delhi, the election scenario in the state of Nagaland is, of course, a credible appraisal for India’s current politics of re-interpreting the idea of India as a nation as well as the future of Indian democracy by compartmentalizing it in the version of Hindutva ideology, and in line with the popularized and eulogized V.D. Savarkar’s concept of democracy. After all this is the state that become an independent nation before India attain hers, albeit the unfortunate refusal by the later to recognized it, where its people, the Naga Christians boycotted the visit of India’s first prime minister, where they refused to participate in the first general election of India, where it recently successfully defy the imposed ULB election and the state that could be among the last frontier to be conquer by the saffron force in its quest of establishing Hindu Rhastra in India. Given this socio-political challenges in the state, this particular state election is a laudable test for “Indian democracy” under the current polity.
The idea of India of post-colonial history was constructed upon the remnant of British-India Empire. Jawaharlal Nehru’s version of claiming of all the territory administered by British-India as an integral part of India is what makes today’s modern independent India (Naeera Chandhoke, Contested Secessions: Rights, Self-determination, Democracy and Kashmir, Oxford 2012). This India of twentieth century era is based on an idea of postcolonial state-nation, where first the state is created, then the nation is push driven the throat of different nationalities by a ‘deep state’ or by a ‘shadow state’. However the current politics over reinterpretation of India, under the present saffron regime, attempts to redefine India as a nation of Hindu to be rule only by Hindus. This cocktail circuit mixing Nehru’s India and Savarkar’s Hindu Rhastra is what the so called “New India” is all about. Yet Nagaland state remain an anti-thesis to this very concept of India and hence conducting election pose a great challenge to New Delhi in its claim for a secular, democratic and pluralistic India. This election is therefore once again a referendum for India towards achieving political legitimacy of claiming Nagaland as its own.
The Naga National Movement called by Bertil Lintner as “Challenging the idea of India” (Great Game East, Harper Collins, 2012) represent a reasonable proposition in its right of asserting a free Naga nation in its homeland. To suppress this legitimate historical right of the Nagas, India, for the last seven decade has to be in a state of denial and resort to all sorts of force as well as propaganda to fit Nagaland in its imaginary imperialistic map. And as part of its propaganda trail, India had signed at least four major political agreements with the Nagas within the span of 70 years. The Hydari Ali Agreement of 1947 that was supposed to kept the Nagas with India only for an interim period of ten years and then would allow the Nagas to determine its own course of future, the 16th point agreement signed with the Naga People’s Convention in 1960 that led to the creation of the state of Nagaland, the controversial Shillong Accord of 1975 where GoI representative could managed to convinced few NNC members to surrender and accept the constitution of India and the Framework Agreement 2015 where India “recognized the sovereign right of the Nagas” and conceived an idea of “shared sovereignty”. This is by far the highest number of political agreement that India signed with any single ethnic group since its independence. Surprisingly, all these attempts made by India to absorb Nagaland and Naga people to mainstream India had so far failed and Indo-Naga political issue are yet to come to any logical conclusion, as Nagas remain consistent in their approach and quest for self-determination.
The most powerful instrument that India perhaps could use to assert its claim over Nagaland would be to set up its own version of democracy through an imposed election. The participation of the Nagas in this imposed India’s election therefore assumed significant as the later required a successful conduct of election with voters’ turnout figure as high as possible so as to project to the world that Nagas indeed are taking part in India’s election and hence is an integral part of India. Shockingly in its pursuit for achieving this goal, India has found friends from some elements from within Nagaland. NBCC’s clean election campaign, despite its noble attempt to clean the corrupt system in the state, would sadly only strengthened India’s democratic institution aided by the state government led by some of the unscrupulous Naga politicians who has no reservation in exchanging the interest and well being of the Nagas with their greed for money and power coming from New Delhi. Do Nagas ever realize that Baba Ramdev special interest in Nagaland and the proposed Patanjali’s institution in the state is just a saffron proxy in its attempt to “reclaim” Nagaland where state government today is acting as facilitator as part of the unholy nexus between them?
Successfully conducting clean election will not help solve the Naga problem. The real problem lies with the India’s electoral politics that is infested with so many inherent defects and that is forcefully imposed in our land. This unhealthy trend of Indian democracy where only number counts, where majoritarian communal politics keep flourishing and where there is a relentless pursuit and gambling for power prevailing constitute today India’s electoral and political landscape.
The key to initiating social and political reform in Nagaland by the church or any civil society and its success requires identifying the defective political system that is imposed on us, doing away with it and replacing it with an alternative political institution. And the best alternative will be restoring our sovereign right as a free nation, and that will be the only chance through which Nagas would see peace and order, and corruption-free society prevailing in our land.
As New Delhi is desperate for the successful conduct of this high stake election, the success would be entirely depends on the enthusiastic participation of the Nagas. India and the present regime along with its saffron allies await Nagas’ response as they face a mounting political challenge of keeping Nagaland and the Nagas within its fold.


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