Rev Rümatho Nyusou
Executive Secretary, Pochury Baptist Church Council
After months of speculation doing the rounds on whether or not elections to the 60 assembly seats in Nagaland will take place, the dust of confusion hovering on top of everybody’s mind has ultimately settled down. Now that even the last window of opportunity to withdraw nomination is also closed, the ground appears to be all set for the final showdown among various political parties. They say general election in India is a festival of democracy. Call it a festival or a battlefield, the outcome of these democratic exercises will invariably affect each citizen adversely or favourably. It is in this context that we ought to exercise our spirituality with utmost caution in sending our representatives to the temple of democracy, the assembly.
In the wake of the growing intolerance and aggression against the minorities in India, particularly against the Christian community, in the form of inflicting physical harm, demolition of church buildings, and blatant deprivation of rights and entitlements, Christians are hard-pressed on all sides like never before. Regrettably, a country that was once looked up to for its religious tolerance and accommodative spirit has today lost its credence. The claim that India is a country of “unity in diversity” does not seem to hold water. All of this is being played out in the run up to the forthcoming assembly elections in those states which are predominantly Christians. Cynics have to read the handwriting on the wall with a pinch of salt.
Talking about the persecution of Christians in mainland India, one might seek false comfort in the thought that it can never happen in a state like Nagaland with a large Christian presence. However, the situation in our own state itself is even more alarming. The acid test of our faith during election indicates that all is not well with our state. A cursory diagnosis of our spiritual wellbeing will show that mercury is on the rise.
Elections over the years have brought bad name to our state – a price so dear to pay for a Christian state. While an image once tarnished is hard to varnish, it is not impossible to recreate a new and even a better version of our image. But how? Every electorate and candidate should take responsibility for the situation we are in. Again the million dollar question before us is “Who will be the first to walk the talk?” The story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and nobody is actually our story. Thus goes the story: There was an important job to be done and everybody was sure that somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought anybody could do it, but nobody realised that everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that everybody blamed somebody when nobody did what anybody could have done. How true!
In two weeks time, Nagaland will go to the poll and we must take this time to do a serious and sincere soul searching exercises. Any political leader or party who seeks the mandate of the people and claims to represent their constituency should honestly present their aspiration and exasperation on the floor of the assembly once they have secured the trust of the people. A state like Nagaland, whose elected members explicitly profess themselves to be Christians, ought to lead others by the example of their action and their faith in Jesus Christ. How about the electorates? We should sail together in the same boat of accountability.
Election, for Christians, is not just an exercise of one’s franchise, a fundamental right guaranteed under the preamble of the constitution; it is also an exercise of one’s faith. Election time is that time of the year when we all must discharge our Christian social responsibility as citizens of the land like the salt and light of the world. As the day of election inches closer to us each passing day, may God grant us the wisdom to discern what is right and what is wrong, and the courage to do what we know is right.