Hijacking of Democracy

The present NPF led government in Nagaland has still not come out with any official statement with regard to several important issues demanding attention. One of them is obviously the implementation of 33% reservation for women in Urban Local Bodies (ULB) in Nagaland. Despite passing a law to this effect in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly, the Neiphiu Rio government has been unable to fulfill its own commitment. No doubt the government has been confronted by the male dominated tribal bodies, a majority of whom are against the 33% reservation for our womenfolk. Now the recent judgment of the Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court directing Nagaland Government to conduct the long-due election to the municipal and town councils before January 20, 2012, along with 33% reservation of seats for women, has left the Rio government in a fix. As rightly mentioned in a report carried in this newspaper, the implementation of women quota in the coming municipal elections will prove to be a herculean task taking into accounts the technicalities and modalities to be involved in a first time exercise. However we have a State Election Commission (SEC), which should get on with the preparation for the smooth conduct of municipal elections as directed by the court. Hopefully, the SEC will act without fear or favour so that the independence of the Office is protected.  As far as the Kohima bench of Gauhati High Court quashing the state cabinet’s decision of indefinite postponement of municipal council and town council elections in Nagaland which were due in January/February 2010, the judiciary has done the right thing.
Strange as it may sound, but the present government have been giving one pretext or the other in order to delay elections to urban local bodies. The opposition to women reservation, Naga political issue, census etc has been some of the arguments put forth by the government to delay the inevitable i.e. to conduct the democratic exercise of elections. And since the question of Advisors appointed by the present political dispensation has now come into the public domain, it is only fitting that we comment on this as it is of public importance. All of us will be aware of the fact that the NPF had strongly opposed the proclamation of President’s Rule in the State ahead of the last Assembly Elections. Massive protest rallies were held to condemn the role of the Nagaland Congress and the decision to dismiss a democratically elected government and imposition of Central rule on the eve of Assembly polls. So as is the case during President’s rule, the Governor of the State rules the State through the bureaucracy. So what is happening in Nagaland at present with the urban local bodies is also similar to imposition of direct (undemocratic) rule. The only difference being that it is the ruling State government which will administer the ULBs through the Governor and through the appointment of Advisors who are handpicked at the discretion of the ruling political dispensation. It is another matter whether it is better to have democratically elected councilors or political appointees to run our municipal councils. But the fact of the matter is that the NPF government despite its own opposition to President’s Rule has now imposed its rule over the ULBs. This is a contradiction in principle which the NPF can well avoid given its past stand against hijacking of democracy by the Nagaland Congress.