State

Oppn slams PDA over governor’s address

Oppn slams PDA over governor’s address
Rio and Zeliang congratulate (inset) Sharingain Longkumer.
Correspondents KOHIMA, FEB 7 (NPN) | Publish Date: 2/7/2020 12:16:59 PM IST

Debate on the motion of thanks to the governor’s address marked ongoing budget session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly after the newly elected speaker took the chair.

The Opposition NPF came down heavily on the ruling PDA government on the Governor’s address delivered on January 17, wherein he had stated that the Naga political talks had been “successfully concluded” and that it was “close to solution”.

Initiating the debate NPF member Imkong L Imchen insisted that Ravi’s speech be amended and  asked leader of the house (LoH) Neiphiu Rio to explain what the governor meant by “successful conclusion”. 

Imchen claimed that the governor’s address contained contradictions such as the appeal to all governments and citizens of neighbouring States to extend cooperation for successful conclusion of the negotiations in the interest of enduring peace and stability in the region despite having claimed that talks had been successfully concluded. 

Imchen said though the governor had only fulfilled his constitutional obligation, conventionally speeches are prepared by the cabinet and so demanded that official speeches should be prepared with integrity since they are cabinet documents. 

On Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Imchen reiterated that the Act infringed on the principles of liberty. He said CAA posed threats on the fabric of unity and warned of its catastrophic affect in the years to come.

 Opposition member Vikheho Swu, who also took part in the debate on the governor’s address maintained that the government of India can take any positive decision in the interest of enduring peace and stability of the north east. He said the negotiations spanning 23 years was long enough for the government of India to obtain an agreeable settlement and that it would be “grievously wrong” on the part of the latter to blame either Nagas or the neighbouring states if settlement was prolonged or should anything go wrong. 

He said developing a common and agreeable understanding between NSCN (I-M) and the NNPGs, depended upon the government of India. Citing the fourth clause in the Cease Fire agreement signed between the government of India and NSCN (I-M) in 1997, Swu said it held that talks would be between government of India and the NSCN (I-M).

However, Swu said NPF legislature party leader T.R. Zeliang as then chief minister in 2017 urged the Interlocutor and now governor of Nagaland R.N. Ravi to include the seven NNPGs to join the talks if the negotiations were to have any meaningful conclusion.

He said though Ravi has initially opined that NSCN (I-M) would never agree, it changed its stance after T.R. Zeliang successfully negotiated with the group after which the Interlocutor officially included the seven NNPGs for negotiations. Swu also urged upon the PDA government to take the lead and help find out gaps if any, between the negotiating parties and the government of India. 

He also said many Naga civil societies played significant roles in bringing the talks to near conclusion as per the governor’s address. Swu spoke against any organisation or individual from playing any role in the peace process as it could only create confusion and delay the final settlement. He said if at all, such organisations and individuals may play a role for strengthening and encouraging the NNPGs to unite and raise a united voice to the government of India. 

Swu also said since the governor had stated that negotiations have successfully concluded it would be productive if the government of India disclose to Nagas and all stakeholders what had been agreed or negotiated as it would help clear all doubts and assumptions and protect the process from misconception. 

On CAA, Swu said the expression of resentment by some had transformed into a nationwide movement now and urged the State government to review its stand and withdraw the Assembly resolution supporting CAA of February 23, 2019.

He accused the PDA government of denigrating Naga people’s image by supporting the CAA just to be in the good book of the Central government.

Referring to Nagaland Post reports, Swu observed that, besides political parties, State governments, universities, unions, associations, student bodies, human rights organisations both within and outside the country, religious bodies, legal fraternity and six of the largest political groups in European Parliament and United Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNHRC) had stated CAA was “discriminatory” in nature and “dangerously divisive” and had called for repealing the discriminatory provisions.

 On Register of Indigenous Inhabitants of Nagaland (RIIN), he remarked that listing names of indigenous inhabitants for identification and making a master list could not protect or safeguard the rights and identity of indigenous people.

Swu said the justification put forward by the State government that RIIN would prevent issuance of false indigenous certificates to non-indigenous people was misleading, stressing strengthening the existing laws was the need of the hour instead of spending time and resource to find alternative means that would only lead to incurring of huge financial cost.

Also taking part in the debate, NPF MLA Kuzholuzo Azo Nienu observed that despite the peace talks, there was social and political unrest in the State.

He also questioned the silence of the government on recruitments by various underground groups after October 31, 2019. 

He said anticipation for a solution had kept alive insurgency problem and multiple taxations, adding the word “close” had confused the citizens. Azo asked the government if the governor’s assertion that negotiations had been successfully concluded was true, or in case there was any hidden agenda, it should be revealed to the MLAs.

Calling for informing all factions that Nagas in Manipur would be accommodated under Naga Autonomous Council, Nagas in Arunachal Pradesh under autonomous council and Nagas in Assam under district council, Azo said accommodating all the factions in Nagaland could lead to grave situation and so the truth must be spelled out.

On CAA, Azo said expecting ILP or Article 371 (A) to save the Nagas was foolish. He cautioned that the Central government would bulldoze CAA and spell the death of the constitution.

Taking part in the debate, NPF member Dr Chotisuh Sazo extended support to the amendments moved by his party colleague Imkong Imchen. He also asked Rio how close Naga political issue was towards solution as always claimed.

While appreciating the negotiating parties, Sazo said the House must urge them to take all sections of the people into confidence to avoid dissension in future. He also stressed that solution should be inclusive and honourable whereby durable peace would reign in the land.

 He also hit out at the government for the panic situation in Nagaland in October 2019 when Dimapur airport was taken over by Indian Air Force for some time for jet fighters to practise day and night operations over Nagaland even as Army personnel intensively patrolled villages and raided houses.

He said PDA government had instructed its administrative officials to remain in station, while leave of police personnel were cancelled except on medical ground and police battalions asked to stock sufficient rations for two to three months, etc.

He asked the government whether creating such war-like situation was meant to press upon the NPGs to conclude the peace talks on or before October 31, 2019 and today, the governor claiming that talks have successfully concluded? 

Sazo demanded that as elected representative of people and also as stakeholders, the MLAs deserved to know the outcome of the talks and asked the government to explain the meaning of “successfully concluded” and “we could be very close to it”.

Further, he pointed out that Article 371(A) and ILP did not protect the Nagas as even some of the clauses that were enshrined in the Article were not implemented in toto by the Centre and also many clauses of the 16 Points Agreement still not implemented. 

Cautioning that if government of India scrapped BEFR 1873, Nagas would be left with no option and so insisted that the house pass the NPF sponsored resolution to oppose CAA

NDPP legislators S Pangnyu Phom and Toshi Wungtung also took part in the debate and supported the governor’s speech.

As many legislators could not participate in the debate, newly-elected NLA speaker Sharingain Longkumer announced that the debate would continue on February 10.

Sharingain Longkumer elected as Speaker

 Sharingain Longkumer of the ruling NDPP was elected on Friday as Speaker of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly

The first-time legislator from Aonglenden constituency defeated former speaker Dr. Imtiwapang Aier by a margin of seven votes (32-25). 19 NDPP legislators (excluding Speaker), 12 BJP and 1 Independent voted in favour of Longkumer, while 25 NPF MLAs voted for Dr. Imtiwapang.

The election was necessitated following the demise of Speaker Vikho-o Yhoshu of the NDPP on December 30. Two seats of the House are currently vacant-- one NDPP and one NPF.

The 37-year old Speaker thanked the members of the Treasury bench in reposing their trust in him in spite of being the youngest member of the House. He also acknowledged the efforts of the opposition bench for upholding the fundamental principles of democracy by participating in the election for the post of Speaker. 

Terming it as an important responsibility and great honour, Sharingain reaffirmed to function as a true umpire respecting the glorious traditions attached to the dignified office of the Speaker. 

Leader of the House and chief minister, Neiphiu Rio and Leader of Opposition, T.R. Zeliang congratulated the newly elected Speaker.  Advisor Rural Development, Dr. Neikiesalie Kire conducted the election to the post of Speaker.

 

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