Y Merina Chishi
Being a leader is not simple. It comes with a lot of responsibilities and the willingness to put people’s welfare before theirs. It also requires them to be grounded and have high ethical standards for people to respect and emulate. When a leader loses any of those characteristics and compromise on their principles, it is a terrible mistake; even if it is just once.
Nagas have a strong history of leaders. In our traditional social setups, we had leaders who commanded respect of every member of tribe. They worked hard to keep the community together even in times of crisis. The community was bigger than the leader and all decisions were based in the interest of the community. Our leaders were brave, honest and didn't falter under pressure.
Naga political struggle has also produced leaders who were willing and indeed sacrifice their lives for the sake of the people. Unfortunately, Nagas today are in want of such leaders. Today, many of our leaders are willing to forgo principles for personal gains.
Last year, one of our representatives to the parliament chose to defy the wishes of the people and the party that he represented by voting in favour of a particular Bill that was rejected by Nagas. The other representative, who also voted in favour, cited party’s directive to justify his stand. Leaving aside all the politics involved over the vote, the breach of trust will forever be etched in the minds of those who gave him the space to become their leader. The leader rendered the opinions of those people useless.
In a not so similar case a few years back, another Naga parliamentarian voted in favour of a 'deal' that was marred by controversies of horse trading. The party he represented could do nothing to stop the parliamentarian from casting his vote in favour of the 'deal' even though it was an ally of the party at the Centre opposing the 'deal'. In contrast, a parliamentarian from a neighbouring state who stood was allegedly bribed to vote in favour of the same but didn't, said, "I could not convince my soul.” At a time when Nagas are in need of a good leader, we find our future in the hands of those who are not willing to take risks or make sacrifices. As a leader, one must be willing to do both and stand ground no matter the crisis one is faced with, even if it means giving up their reign. In this age of politics, it is easy to get swayed by personal gains. But as a people's representative, it is imperative to listen to the voices of the people and take the right decisions even in difficult situations. This is the foundation of strong leadership.
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