Post Mortem

Weird statements, strange bedfellows

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/9/2019 12:49:15 PM IST

 It was an OMG-moment for many when LK Advani said, ““The essence of Indian democracy is respect for diversity and freedom of expression.” He went on to say that his “party has been committed to freedom of choice of every citizen at personal as well as political level.”

This is priceless, coming from the man who spearheaded the BJP’s Hindu nationalism movement in the 1980s and ‘90s, and largely seen as the one responsible for bringing out in the open demands for Muslims to go and settle in Pakistan; the man who termed non-BJP parties as “pseudo-secular” parties; the man who was most vocal about the need to have a Uniform Civil Code in the country.  Advani, talking of “respect for diversity”, “freedom of choice” etc. is as jarring to one’s intellect as it is to mention Jack the Ripper and saintliness in the same sentence! And we felt like shrinking back into our seats.

Closer home, we have come across several instances and occasions which made us squirm uneasily. Rahul Gandhi’s declaration at Dimapur the other day that if voted to power, his party Government shall introduce Special Category States for Northeastern States and others, was a classic one. We do not know if Dr SC Jamir, who was sharing the dais with him, reminded the young leader that it was the Congress Government at the Centre which abolished the Special Category States facilities way back in 1989, and that he, as Chief Minister of Nagaland in the 1990s, had repeatedly pointed out to the Congress Government at the Centre how deficits of the State have started to accumulate astronomically after discontinuation of the facility. We surely felt tingles running through our spines when RaGa made the statement.

RaGa’s promise to bring an early solution to the protracted Naga political problem also made us rub our chins raw wondering what the Congress-led UPA Government was doing for ten long years between 2004 and 2014 about the issue, and made us squeamish with the phrase “early solution” used lavishly by one and all when we Nagas, the immediate stakeholders, are undecided exactly what kind of solution we want!

RaGa’s opposition to CAB is understandable since his party had been tooth and nail against it since it was introduced in the Lok Sabha in July 2016. But if the Congress was in power, do we really know for sure that it would not introduce it or something similar to it in the Parliament? After all, politicians are known to create vote banks and we have seen what the Congress Governments in Assam did about vote banks by not checking illegal immigrants as stringently as ought to have been done. RaGa cannot possibly blame the present BJP Government in Assam for the lakhs of settlers whose documents and antecedents are doubtful, and who have been left out of NRC list presently: His party was ruling the State for decades till two years or so back. Yes, we develop goose bumps when we think of Congress’ opposition to CAB.

While the party had come out opposing the bill vehemently, in a recent election campaign, NPCC President wooed the minority communities by declaring that “if Congress forms the Government with the help of the coalition, then non-Nagas will be able to enter the Municipal or Assembly either by election or as nominees”! Eerie statement which sends shivers up Naga spines.

As for the NPF’s opposition to the CAB, it makes one a bit wiggly considering that when it was passed in the Parliament in 2016, the NPF-led DAN Government did not raise even a semblance of a whisper campaign against it.

Strangely, the NPCC has promised to help NPF form the Government in Nagaland after the Parliamentary elections. This makes one wonder if the Congress, like a magician pulling out rabbits from a hat, expects to bring out legislators from thin air. After all, it is contesting in a single bye-election in the State, and election is yet to be held. Also, the NPF has only 26 MLAs out of whom 7 have openly revolted against the party. If this is not a classic case of counting chickens, what is?

But then, electioneering throws up weird statements and makes strange bedfellows.

Dr SC Jamir has recently lauded the Congress candidate KL Chishi as “a veteran leader who understands well the plight of the people.” This candidate is the very person he dropped from his ministry in the mid-1990s and declared in the Assembly that the worst mistake he, Jamir, had made in his political life was to make KL Chishi his Finance Minister! And what about Jamir and K Therie, the NPCC chief, sharing the same dais?

After Jamir dropped Therie from his ministry in 2002, the latter joined the NPF and managed to form the Government under Neiphiu Rio in 2003. Elated by the victory over his former political godfather, and bitter that he had been unceremoniously dropped from the ministry a year earlier, Therie used choicest of the most un-parliamentary words to attack his former leader during the first Budget Session in 2003. But now, they are back again together and we cannot help but marvel at the healing powers of, well, politics!

Nothing much need to be said about NPF supremo Dr Shurhozelie Liezietsu and his “Heraka Boy” because it is still fresh in everyone’s mind as to how the latter pulled the rug off from the feet of his President, appointed his own Chief Whip in the Assembly defying party directive, and tried to re-write the provisions of the Tenth Schedule which clearly states that it is the political party which appoints the Whip. The acrimony and rancor which prevailed between the two in 2017, and which were made abundantly sufficient for the public to witness in the local media, are memories which have not been blurred from the minds of the people.

As for the “one-time affair” between the “Hand” and the “Cock” we can only wait for the date of counting to know what will come out of it. But one finds it strange that the Cock party which had been in alliance with the BJP, then known as Bharatiya Jana Sangh, or Jana Sangh in short, since 1977 and have been opposing tooth and nail the Congress party for the notorious Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi, has suddenly found out that the BJP is anathema to the Nagas and their ways of life. The BJP was NPF’s “natural ally” when the latter was in power as recent as two years back; but now the BJP is NPF’s bête noire and a threat to secular democracy and diversity of the nation.  However, this does not seem to be the case in neighbouring Manipur where NPF is part of the BJP Government! Strange, indeed, and stranger bedfellows we have seen this season.

END PIECE: Politicians in Goa are not a very popular set of people and passers-by at the Goa Legislative Assembly located at Porvorim across the Mandovi river snidely comment that the building houses Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves (Goa has 40 seats). Liberated from Portuguese rule in 1971, it became a full-fledged State only in May 1987. And since then Governments have been formed with wafer-thin majority. And many ministries have had life spans of fruit flies owing to defections and change of loyalties which made a resident Goan comment tongue-in-cheek: “When two or three of our legislators get together in one of the many resorts over a bottle of Scotch, get tipsy and decide to change the Government, why, within 24 hours or so, we head to Raj Bhavan to witness a new Swearing-In ceremony!”

(The writer belongs to a political party. These are his personal opinions.)

Sebastian Zumvu

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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