India’s pluralist and secular ethos under attack: AICC General Secy

AICC General Secretary, RS Surjewala at the Congress election rally in Dimapur on April 16. (Morung Photo)

AICC General Secretary, RS Surjewala at the Congress election rally in Dimapur on April 16. (Morung Photo)

‘Congress for a model of compassion, dialogue and solution’

Morung Express News
Dimapur | April 16

A beleaguered Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) addressed a relatively big rally in Dimapur on April 16 despite the cancelling of a scheduled address by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) President, Mallikarjun Kharge.  

AICC General Secretary, RS Surjewala addressed the rally in the Naga Shopping Arcade (Super Market) in Kharge’s place. The 81-year-old Kharge got a bout of fever the night before and had to cancel the Nagaland tour on the doctor’s advice, said the AICC’s Nagaland in-charge, Girish Chodankar.

Surjewala, a Rajya Sabha Member from Haryana, accused the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of planning a “sinister design” to change the Constitution, enshrined as a repository of the country’s pluralism and secularism. “(Neiphiu) Rio will not tell you, but the BJP's Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde says… they will change the constitution.” 

He said that the changing of the Constitution implies the nullifying of Article 371 (A). “Can the NDPP stand against Modi and say the Constitution can't be changed? The answer is, no,” he said, claiming that the Congress candidate, S Supongmeren Jamir, has the capacity to stand and speak in Parliament.

He further held that the country has witnessed increased targeted attacks on minorities. He termed the NDPP and BJP of following a model of "dictate, impose, force, intimidate” as opposed to the Congress’ “compassion, love, dialogue, listen and find a solution.” According to him, the acronyms—NDPP and BJP stand for “No Direction Propaganda Party and Bahut Jhoothi Party.”

He then went on to attack the policies of the BJP-led NDA, besides questioning the latter committing to “elections for solution” in 2023.

Naga political issue: Contrary to the BJP taking credit, Surjewala held that the August 3, 2015 Framework Agreement with the NSCN (IM) was the outcome of years of negotiations by the Government of India, including Congress regimes. He said that the content of the FA remains shrouded in mystery despite the elapsing of 9 years.

FMR: He said that the Modi government wants to abolish the Free Movement Regime (FMR) with Myanmar as declared by the Home Minister, Amit Shah earlier in February. “What will happen to our relatives and friends and families who live across the borders? Can this right be taken away without appropriate consultations? These are questions that can only be answered by dialogue and discussion, not Amit Shah.”

UCC: He said that while there has to be a process of dialogue and agreement, he said that the BJP government is imposing the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). Imposing the UCC, he claimed, would be equivalent to abolishing the Naga culture. According to him, it cannot be implemented without the Naga people’s consent.

CAA: With the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), he said that natives will be required to prove residence and lineage. “Does everybody have proof from their grandfather's, great grandfather's time? The answer is clearly no.” According to him, the CAA cannot become a tool to deny “original people of the land their rights to the land.”  

Price and extortion: He held a “syndicate of extortion and corruption” as behind soaring prices in Nagaland. He said that a construction essential like steel rebar costs Rs 55 a kg in Dimapur as against the Rs 30 in Delhi, while Nagaland has the costliest bricks among all the states in the country.

Unemployment: According to Surjewala, employment is at its nadir in Nagaland, with unemployment among graduates and post-graduates tipped at 40 percent and 45 percent, respectively. For a small state, there are 70,442 people registered unemployed, he added. Meanwhile, he said that the Rio government only “believes in backdoor entry.” 
The candidate, Supongmeren, said that the Naga political issue and the demands of the eastern Nagaland districts will be among the main priorities, if the INDIA bloc assumes power.