Political Test for Jamir, Rio

A high voter turnout - nearly 75 percent - in Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry Assembly polls has been reported which if true is good news for people’s democracy. In the past there has been allegations of wrong doings—booth capturing, vote buying, intimidation etc. However the active participation of people in the recent Assembly polls as is reported augurs well for the future of our democracy. It is also indicative of the fact that our democracy and the quality of the processes involved is improving. With several checks and balances including the active presence of an independent media and off-course the Election Commission of India doing its job well, let us hope that free and fair election becomes a rule and not an exception. In Nagaland too our democratic system must improve. We need to move away from all forms of illegality that taints our political and electoral system. The coming bye-elections to be held on May 7, 2011 will present a good opportunity for us to undertake this mission of cleansing our system. It is the Church and the Naga Mothers which will have to take the lead in reforming our corrupt system. We should not expect much from our political parties, tribal hohos and other organizations.  As far as the political side of election goes, it is a good time to assuage public mood and see how the government of the day is performing.
The coming bye-election to the Aonglenden constituency is important for several reasons. Firstly it will be a trial run for former Chief Minister and Governor SC Jamir who is re-entering State politics after quite some time. Despite contentious opinion doing the rounds on his return to active politics, it was only a matter of time before the former Chief Minister threw his hat into the ring. At the time of the last Assembly Polls, there was talk of him contesting with even the Nagaland Congress party divided into two camps of those who favoured his return and others who felt that Jamir’s return would only damage the prospects of the Congress in the State. As such, everybody including supporters as well as political opponents of Jamir will be closely watching the outcome of the coming bye-election. For Jamir it is also a time to test the public mood. A win will certainly push the senior politician to take a full plunge into electoral politics once the next Assembly Election comes, which is not too far away. A loss for Jamir will put a serious question mark about his political future. So personally for Jamir as well, the bye-election will be a political test and a sort of a trial balloon.
Secondly, it is obvious that the ruling NPF led government is taking the bye-elections very seriously as this is the first major electoral test for the NPF following Jamir’s decision to re-enter State politics. A win for the NPF will be a huge political boost ahead of the next Assembly Election and will certainly tilt the balance in favour of Neiphiu Rio. A loss could well damage the prospect of the NPF as far as Mokokchung is concerned. The Ao region contributes 10 seats overall. Seen as a stronghold of the Congress, Neiphiu Rio was nevertheless able to win 4 seats from Mokokchung, thereby making a dent into the prospect of the Congress coming back to power in the last election. Given the political importance and the high stakes involved for both the ruling NPF and Opposition Congress, the coming bye-election will be hard fought and its outcome closely scrutinized by both winners and losers. It will also be a political test for Jamir and Rio and the sign of things to come.