Yet again, the Nagaland Government has constituted a Cabinet Sub-Committee to examine the issue of Urban Local Body elections vis-a-vis women reservation and other related issues and make recommendations.
The announcement conveyed through the State’s Directorate of Information and Public Relations on August 23 informed that the Cabinet Sub-Committee will be headed by G Kaito Aye, Minister, Agriculture, Co-operation as Chairman and CM Chang, Minister, Environment, Forest & Climate Change and Parliamentary Affairs; Neiba Kronu, Minister, Planning & Co-ordination, Land Revenue; P. Paiwang Konyak, Minister, Transport & Civil Aviation, Land Resources; and Metsubo Jamir, Minister, Urban Development & Municipal Affairs as members. With the Principal Secretary, Municipal Affairs as the Member-Secretary, the Committee has been asked to submit its report/recommendations within 2 months from the date of issue as per the announcement.
Devoid of single woman representative in the assembly, the ‘stag’ cabinet had to perpetuate the exclusive gentleman’s club, to discuss the dicey gender issue. The constant formation of committees also reflects the Government’s uneasiness over the issue thereby perpetuating the process through a clever creative inertia – doing nothing while trying to exhibit that something is being done.
If one could recall, this is the second time in less than three months, the People’s Democratic Alliance Government has undertaken such steps. On June 5, a Ministerial Committee was constituted to examine the issue.
Incidentally, while the nomenclature has been changed from ‘Ministerial Committee’ to ‘Cabinet Sub-Committee,’ barring one member – Metsubo Jamir – Jacob Zhimomi, the other members are same.
The mandate that time around was also “to examine the women reservation issue and hold discussions with the tribal hohos and all other stakeholders.” With the similar mandate, this time, the committee has been given 2 months to submit its report but it is another tacit ‘dilly-dallying’ tactics of the government.
Women reservation issue was one of the focal points of the violent protests resulting in the cancellation of ULBs elections in January last year in the state. Ensuing games of musical chair ultimately resulted in resignation of the then Chief Minister TR Zeliang.
Thereafter, the previous Democratic Alliance of Nagaland Government also followed the same path of constituting several committees and series of ‘consultative processes’ before passing a resolution on unanimously revoking an earlier decision of November 26, 2016 allowing reservation for women in the ULBs.
One such meeting on October 11 last year “ended in a stalemate” with both the pro and anti-reservation sticking to their “stands like before”, according to one attendee. So far, there is no enlightenment and after two months one can safely wager that another sub-committee will be formed – hopefully comprising of both men and women – to follow the established pattern.
To avoid such pitfall, all stakeholders should come clean on the issue and the government must also look at other measure to break the vicious cycle of creative evasion.
Those in opposition must clearly indicate whether they are opposing certain provisions of the act – for instance, the issue of taxation, or the women’s reservation in toto and discard the false pretense on emancipation.
The Government must also make its position clear on the issue instead of making ambiguous statement of enabling gender-equity and implicitly wishing that the issue will linger perpetually. Once each position is plain, there will be room for maneuvering out of the present quagmire. Else, polity in Nagaland will always remain an elusive and exclusive Gentleman’s Club.