Post Mortem

Delimitation, by Tribal Integrity?

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/20/2020 12:08:26 PM IST

 (From previous issue)

How the delimitation drill will reconfigurate BJP’s presence in these States nonetheless will remain more of a matter of result rather than speculation! What is however clear is—the party is now in a position to unravel the dynamics of the most complex socio-political regions in the country.

As for Nagaland, BJP has been a toddler partner in the government since 2003—under the protective groom of NPF. Fifteen years later, in the February 2018 polls, the strategy paid off—and BJP secured more seats and a better deal after its tie-up with a new regional party NDPP—giving them a Deputy Chief Minister. With delimitation at the doorstep, whether the party will gain from the exercise, or whether it will wreck the district of the present BJP leadershipis everybody’s guess now? 

Anxieties in Nagaland however is a lot more than conjecturing BJP’s fortune. It is everyone for himself—from Constituency to District to Tribe—in real life. And, 2001 Census appears to have numbed this reality talk as the perfect scapegoat. 

At 64.41% decadal growth rate, which is 12,00,546 persons (1991) to 19,90,036 persons (2001), policy makers and social leaders were not impressed with census inflation of some particular districts. Amidst such perplexes, 2011 Census saw a decline in Nagaland population by 11,534 persons—registering a never-ever-heard-of-in-India-population-decrease growth rate of -0.58%. It only intensified the hollering that 2001 Census is fallacious, malicious, and mischievous. The Chakhesang Public Organization and the Joint Action Committee on Delimitation have been filing Writ Petitions in this regard. 

Litigating to stop the application of Delimitation Act in Nagaland is a huge battle cry! Praying for the Court to decide whether to use 2001 or 2011 Census is another faith! Or, trigger-pulling the gunnery of Article 371(A) to read-my-lips sense of entitlements—are not impossible spectacles, at all. 

In 1992, similar war cries were soundedby the Naga Students’ Federation (NSF)over the abnormal growth pattern of electorates since 1963. Xenophobic goosebumps of outsiders becoming the State’s population were reiterated—citing abuse of Innerline Permit, the lax criteria for determining non-indigenous persons, and the proverbial ‘special’ Article 371(A). The hullabaloo almost came to a standstill when, in a rare of rarest case, the Ministry of Home Affairs shot a direct letter to NSF—No. 14/1/92 NE II, dated New Delhi, 18.05.1992—requesting the petitioner to identify names of all foreign nationals in the electoral roll.  

As of today, all the sixty Nagaland Legislative Assembly seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes. Recall 1964—the first post-Statehood election—the entire Assembly seats of Dimapur and Ghaspani were won by non-Nagas. The fear of the outsider is as old as the politics of power and domination. Opposing 2001 Census is premised on a crude logic—that the reproductive biology of Naga parents has been desecrated by enfranchising the wombs of illegal migrants. Even the most primal animal, one should remember, increase its populace only when there is loving cradle. 

For, 2011 Census is no saviour statistics either. Of the total population of Nagaland, the combined non-Christian population stands at—Hindus (8.75%), Muslim (2.47%), Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, etc. (0.57%) and, others (0.28%). By simply deducing that all Christians registered in the Nagaland Census may not be necessarily all Nagas and, also, taking into account that it is highly improbable that a decent size of Naga population may have registered as non-Christian—we can still speculate that 2,38,851 persons (12.07% of total population) in the 2011 Census are still non-Nagas. The delimitation formula translates this into an average of seven Assembly seats.

What matters—therefore—is whether a legal recourse is pursued to ensure census integrity? Or, whether angry pitches have any democratic harmony? Or, are we confronting a constitutional process that has to come to full circle?Or, most importantly, are we motivated because a particular district or a particular community stands to lose some assembly seats from the present arrangement? 

Democracy, unfortunately, always ensures the majority as the winner. No second prize exists in electoral politics. Fortunately, the test of democracy relies on checking the conqueror takes it all might. A strong opposition is pivotal for a mature democracy.

As tribal head-hunter graduates, the inheritance of democratic ethos is definitely a little discomforting. It is still difficult to blind our eyes—while judging the costs of benefits. Manufacturing fear is still immutably woven to a politics of majority and minority.Delimitation exercise will dilute many equations. Some districts or some tribes will have to let it go. Aliens certainly cannot have constitutional rightsand it is our right to identify and our job to act rather than complain. Other than rants of outsiders, the majesty of delimitation will remain in how we face and deal with tribalism once again. 

Today, we are misled if we still think that the foundation of democracy is built on the power of lying statistics, or cheap proxy votes. In democracy, the potential of leadership is purely dependent on electorates. The magical charm of provincial clannism or suburbia khelism or centric tribalism is not sustainable to prepare a future for our people. Overcoming the status-quo of tribal righteousness will be our biggest challenge. The eloquence of Census Politics definitely resembles a pathological refusal to accept that change is the only constant in life.

Kekhrie Yhome

(Kekhrie Yhome is a professor, politician, and philosopher. Views ventilated here do not mirror the outlook of any political party).


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