Monday, December 5, 2022

Magical solution

When the term of the current 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) ends, election to constitute the 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) is scheduled to be conducted by February-March 2023. The present political scenario invokes memories of 1998 when organisations and major political parties, barring Indian National Congress(INC) demanded that solution of the Naga political issue ought to take precedence over election. In the run up to the 1998 assembly election, parties such as Nagaland People’s Council (NPC) and BJP and Nationalist Democratic Movement (NDM) decided not to participate in heeding to the call given by various NGOs such as Naga Hoho for solution to the Naga political issue. In 43 of the constituencies, the INC candidates were uncontested and therefore by default declared. The Independents managed to win seven of these seats. Solution came nowhere near in 1998 and neither showed any signs even in the fifth year in 2003. By then, some of the Congress leaders rebelled and joined the party without MLAs, the NPC to form the Nagaland People’s Front (NPF) which later was re-named as Naga People’s Front (NPF) to spread its wings to Naga inhabited areas of Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. In the campaign for the assembly elections in 2003 the leaders of the nascent NPF used the Naga issue to hilt. The Congress was painted as the villain and the nascent party promised solution within three months of being voted to power. Three months passed and even by 2008 there was no solution. However despite failing to secure solution by whatever means, the 2008 election began with the parroting of the promise for early solution. Again, five years passed and in 2013 the NPF promised to remain committed to secure solution to the Naga political issue. Despite growing sceptics who saw the issue being used as a camouflage, yet voters preferred to choose their representatives on the basis of what the NBCC had vainly tried to cleanse from electoral politics. The most testing time for the NPF and its offshoot the nascent Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) came in 2018. The NGOs again came up with a similar resolution as in 1998 abstain from taking part in the assembly election. Both NPF and NDPP were caught in a dilemma in 1998 as well as other political parties including Congress. The core committee of various NGOs wanted to press for solution as holding election would mean putting the issue on the backburner. Populist slogan on ‘Naga solution’ may have won some parties elections in the past but people are already sceptical. The people have realised that winning election has certainly not brought about any such solution. Thus, the BJP was the first political party to blink in 1998 when its national general secretary in-charge of Nagaland promised ‘Election for Solution’. The party candidates filed their nominations and this triggered a rush by other parties to do likewise. The scenario ahead of the scheduled election in 2023 has again reheated with the demand for solution. This time, there is no clarity on either solution or even election. While the WC, of NNPGs have decided to ‘prevent election’ for solution, the BJP has asked units against initiating any election-related matter. Added to election is the decision of ENPO to boycott election in support of its demand for creation of a Frontier Nagaland State. The solution vrs election has come full circle 25 years on and 2023 could be a year of reckoning.

Previous article
Next article
Must Read