Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Futile demand for PR

Demand for imposition of President’s Rule in Nagaland is being heard frequently as various CSOs and in particular, political parties want to end the unbroken rule of a nexus of regional alliance leaders; either heading separate party coalitions or closing ranks as in the present UDA opposition-less government. The reason why demand for President’s Rule is getting loud and clear is simple- loss of faith in the ruling government having no opposition and especially the character and style of functioning of the government. According to the opposition parties such Congress, Rising People’s Party (RPP) and to some extent the NPP besides CSOs, President’s Rule is needed in order to curb the financial mismanagement which has landed the state in a dire financial crisis with over Rs.15,000 loans pending and various other liabilities. The state budget by end of 2022-23 is expected to close with a negative balance of over Rs.2200 crore. Nagaland has been a fortunate recipient of huge and generous central fund assistance which could be in term of a few lakh crore since nearly two decades. What is quite regretful is that huge sums have been either spent without works being complete (work –in-progress) or estimates quadrupling. The most important and vital are roads that serve as the artery of growth. Even today, most roads across several districts in Nagaland are in deplorable condition and the unusual monsoon torrential rains have caused more damage. In addition, the opposition have also rightly pointed out that government run by the regional party/alliance has also shown a disinclination to effectively check the activities of various armed elements extorting openly and without fear. In fact, due to the laxity and rhetorical indulgence of politicians in power, those involved extortion genuinely believe they have a legitimate right to collect taxes. Of course, it is another matter what those who collect money eventually do with the huge funds they collected under the plea of working for the nation. The Congress has not spared any word against the ruling government for allowing rampant extortion to continue. This makes no sense for such a government to talk about creating more police battalions or police modernization when it willfully chooses not to carry out its constitutional duties to enforce rule of law so as to protect the helpless citizens. Ever since 2009-10 when various organizations came out openly and boldly against rampant extortion by various groups, the state government did precious little. Public became agitated and since 2012 ACAUT Nagaland held anti-extortion and illegal collection rallies across Nagaland. The government was compelled to form a high power committee headed by retired supreme court judge justice H.K. Sema in 2014 to submit findings on illegal, rampant and multiple taxations. The HPC submitted its report in June 2015 but till date nothing has been heard of it. These are some of the few serious issues that have been ongoing like the talks but no solution. In principle the Modi government could have cracked the whip years ago but there are perhaps reasons why that has not happened, especially as the prime minister has been projected as a hard task master and one who does not tolerate corruption in any form. Nagaland could have been placed under PR, if it was ruled by a non-NEDA party or coalition as that way there was something to gain. Therefore, demanding PR is a lost cause as it is political interest and not people’s interest that matter.