Reconciliation and Elections

Naga Reconciliation and politics obviously does not gel well and the two should be kept apart for all intents and purposes. Whenever politics raises its ugly head, as was the case in the recent bye-elections to the 26 Aonglenden Assembly Constituency, the goals of peace and unity in all probability will be jeopardized. This concern has been mentioned several times in the past through this column. It has always been the stated position of this newspaper that as far as the Naga political issue goes; all political parties need to come together through a common forum. As such the decision to constitute a “Joint Parliamentary Committee on Naga political issue comprising of Members irrespective of political party”, was a welcome step.  In fact following this, there was a unanimous adoption of the four-point resolution on the Naga political issue by the 11th Nagaland Legislative Assembly during a rare joint sitting held on 26th November 2009. Everyone right from the Speaker, Chief Minister, Leader of the Opposition and all elected MLAs had shown great foresight and wisdom in coming together for an important task that lay ahead—finding a permanent and acceptable solution to the Naga political issue. However the ground rules of this joint resolution seems to have been broken during the just concluded politically high voltage election campaign. The Speaker of the House and also the Chief Minister and Opposition Leader should look into the recently concluded elections and how this has had an adverse effect on the aims and objectives of the Joint Legislators Forum.
The Opposition Congress which had been quite reluctant to agree to such a joint forum had nevertheless agreed to be part of this common venture in the larger interest of the Naga issue. Now reports are saying that the Nagaland Congress is rethinking whether to continue. Obviously it is unhappy with the ruling NPF’s brand of politics on the Naga issue, which the Congress thought was now above party politics. The party leadership within the NPF must do some explaining and ensure that nothing is done to break the joint forum which has come together for a common cause. There is enormous responsibility on both the Nagaland Congress and the ruling NPF to ensure that all members whether legislators or Ministers adhere both in letter and spirit to the sacrosanct four-point resolution adopted. This will mean that the Naga issue is not politicized as it is ‘above party affiliation’. It will require restraint and dignity not to cross the red line. Those who violate the letter and spirit of the joint resolution/s should be individually held accountable.  Otherwise, our elected representatives will lose credibility in the eyes of the people. Whether it is the political parties, tribal hohos or civil society, they have to come to the realization that politicizing the Naga issue has only added to further division. It will be extremely unwise and at the same time unfortunate if both parties play to the gallery or use the Naga issue to score brownie political points. Peace and reconciliation is the need of the hour and nothing should jeopardize this noble objective. All the political parties will have to work collectively by submitting their political interests for the overall objective of bringing about peace among the Nagas. With another round of Assembly Elections in 2013, the Joint Legislators Forum under the initiative of the Speaker, CM and Opposition Leader must take some concrete measures to ensure that politics is kept away from the sensitive Naga issue.