Jasokie’s Legacy

The passing away of John Bosco Jasokie, former Chief Minister of Nagaland marks the end of an era in the annals of Naga political history. The imprint left by Late Jasokie is truly exemplary and the stream of condolence messages pouring into this newspaper office since yesterday only confirms his marked contribution as a leader who shaped the destiny of the Naga nation and later as one of the founding fathers made Statehood a reality. Some of his contemporaries (and there are not many alive today) have described Late Jasokie as a moderate Naga leader who was opposed to violence and along with late T. Sakhrie among others had the courage to oppose those leaders who propagated violence as a means to achieve their goals. While Late Jasokie made his debut as a politician in 1952 when he joined the Naga Independence movement, he broke away from it over differences regarding the means to be adopted to achieve its political ends. After resuming normal civilian life, Late Jasokie organized the Naga Peoples Convention and was elected General Secretary of the NPC. The rest as they say is history, imprinted for the future generation of Nagas to take inspiration from.  

Known for his strong conviction Late Jasokie played a prominent role in Naga politics both during the time when he was in the national movement and later when Nagaland was formed as a full fledged State. That Late Jasokie never lost any election he contested since the birth of Nagaland only goes to show his popularity among the masses he represented. Such an exemplary feat is rare these days given that the very art of politics, one that calls for humility and self sacrifice has degenerated in our times so much so that more and more people are losing faith in the ability of our leaders to deliver. Late Jasokie once reportedly told a journalist from the northeast that he was supposed to be the first Nagaland Chief Minister because he got the highest votes from amongst the members but gave to P Shilu Ao as he (Shilu Ao) was an elderly man and with perfect understanding. Not many of our present day politicians would be able to emulate such courtesy and sacrifice. Rightly acknowledged as a great politician of his time, Late Jasokie would be remembered for his integrity, sincerity and straightforwardness. 

Above all Jasokie stood out as a symbol of what Nagas need more than anything else today—a sense of oneness. He was always concerned about the killings and disunity prevailing among the Nagas. “We shall make serious and relentless attempts to bring different sections and factions of our people into a united fold”, he had said in his inaugural address over AIR Kohima after been sworn in as Chief Minister in 1980 and continued “I appeal to our people to practice the true spirit of reconciliation and to accept the principle of reconciliation as an article of faith”. The pursuit of peace, justice and the building of a new economic order for a better and greater Nagaland was a slogan coined by Late Jasokie and this is the legacy that he would have wished the Nagas to strive for. 

There can be no doubt that much of the cement that went into the foundations of Nagaland was poured by people like Late Jasokie.