By Imkong Walling
“If you say that something that happens is par for the course, you mean that you are not pleased with it but it is what you expected to happen,” is how the Collins English Dictionary explains the idiom— par for the course. It would be something akin to being unhappy with a poor test result, but that was the anticipated outcome because the student in concern has a history of poor performance.
At a societal level, it is reminiscent of the general discontent associated with governance knowing all too well the government’s fairly poor track record. Cronyism, nepotism, misappropriation are stuff that most people are unhappy with but can hardly do anything about because that has been the tradition.
To draw another parallel, it is somewhat like the lukewarm response to the filling of the state Lokayukta post, which had remained vacant for 22 months since February 2021. It is an important office, one that was designed to put a check on political corruption. Given the known and alleged corruption in the government system in Nagaland, it is a big development and the people should rather be celebrating than be uninterested. But the people are not lauding and celebrating the appointment of a new Lokayukta. It is odd, but why?
To comprehend this, one has to consider the controversial circumstances under which the previous Lokayukta was removed, or rather, made to leave; and the length the state government went to, to tweaking the Lokayukta Act only to add a new eligibility criterion.
The appointment of the new Lokayukta may have gone by the amended rulebook, but there was one aspect that has been too glaring to ignore. The new Lokayukta notwithstanding her administrative background is closely related to a senior member of the coalition government, who has been accorded Cabinet status. Coincidentally, the subordinate, the Upa Lokayukta also happens to be a member of the Chief Minister’s party.
It would be premature to start hurling allegations given that the new Lokayukta is yet to discharge the duties and functions of the office. However, the nature, objective and responsibility of the office are such that it will be to the advantage of the state only if it remains free of political attachment.
Nagaland’s maiden rendezvous with a quasi judicial, anti-corruption institution was a tempestuous affair. But in the pursuit of objectivity and fairness, it would not be unjustified to demand that the relationship between the office of the Lokayukta and the government be rather stormy than lovey-dovey. A Lokayukta that upholds the integrity of the office, keeping the government on its toes than one that chooses to dance to the tune of the people in ruling.
As it appears now, it is suggestive of nepotism. In Nagaland, however, it is par for the course.
The writer is a Principal Correspondent at The Morung Express. Comments can be sent to [email protected]