Rift in Cong over Jamir’s comeback

Al Ngullie
September 10

While strong affirmation of party unity is being claimed,   the reported return of Dr. SC Jamir to politics has the Nagaland Congress clearly divided into three camps: Those who support the Goa Governor’s return to “save the party,” from an internal leadership tension; those opposing for fear that their position would be usurped and thirdly, those fearing an NSCN-IM backlash owing to the perceived stand of Jamir on the Naga political issue. The latter two sections feel Jamir’s return “will be disastrous” and so “I have advised him not to come back.”   

In fact, a very senior Congress leader, when contacted over phone, disclosed to this daily that he had personally told the Goa Governor “not to come back or it will be disastrous for us.” Interestingly, the Congress stalwart refused to be named. However, if at all he should be quoted, then “first tell us who said Jamir is coming back and you can quote me.” 

“I have told him not to come back; it will be disastrous for us; we do not subscribe to such; I have advised him not to come back” the leader said. To the query if he should be attributed the quotes, the Congress leader said to be identified only after the Congress sources who first claimed of Jamir’s comeback, identify themselves.  

The leader also said that the people were against Jamir’s “personality.” “When he was the Chief Minister, people were against his personality and not the Congress” he maintained. He also said that any official intimation from the Goa Governor has yet to be received, if at all. The leader, however, aired his displeasure that this newspaper is the ‘instigator.’ He asserted “you are instigating the issue; you are the instigators.” 

Even as this news report was being filed, sources from the State Congress informed that recently, public leaders and a few Congress leaders from Tuli area had a closed door meeting on September 4-5 at the Goa Governor’s residence in Kohima. In fact, in this meeting Jamir had confirmed of his return, a source said. This ‘confirmation’ was the reason why some state Congress leaders are lobbying for a seat for Jamir to contest from. 

A district unit leader also informed that when Jamir was in Chumukedima in May-June this year, he had called for strengthening the party’s leadership since it was ‘fractured.’ It implied that Jamir wanted to use this to his advantage and “become the Chief Minister.” While the details could not be confirmed, it was also informed that, Dimapur, apart from Tuli, was being ‘lobbied.’ Within the state Congress leadership an obvious, but undeclared tussle for leadership is on, a leader said. In fact there are about four of the senior state leaders who ‘want to head the Congress and become Chief Minister if the party comes to power.’  

Jamir is understood to be waiting for the UPA government to relieve him as Goa’s head. Till this is done, Jamir cannot make public his ambition. Other Congress legislators and senior leaders remain tight-lipped. 

Congress legislator from Mon Chingwang Konyak simply repeated “no comment for now” while MLA KV Pusa who informed to be out of station, refused to make any comment except that only the “high command” can make any remark. Senior Congress leader (and former Nagaland CM) KL Chishi opined that that the matter is with the “high command and it will take its decision”. Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee chief Hokheto Sumi did not return repeated calls made to him. 

A senior leader of a major district unit, also on condition of anonymity, said Jamir’s return will not only jeopardize the Congress “credibility” build over the last few years but also invite the ire of the NSCN-IM. The leader admitted that state Congress leaders are “afraid” that Jamir’s presence would make the NSCN-IM target the party “again,” like the outfit did during the last state assembly elections. 

The NSCN-IM is against Jamir for his stand on the Naga issue and not the Congress, “who enjoys the people’s confidence,” the leader opined. However the Congress cannot do anything if at all the Goa Governor decides to join the party, he said. 

He further disclosed that the Congress high command is suffering from “leadership problems” and for now there is yet to be a singular, decided leadership. The lack of singular leadership might be the reason Jamir desires to come back to take advantage of the situation, the leader said adding that “this will jeopardize (CLP chief) Imkong’s position” and “he (Jamir) will become Chief Minister.”

In the same vein, a congress worker from Tuli in a letter to this paper expressed fear that Jamir’s return would “end the era of the Congress in the state.” 

“… we must be aware that in Nagaland we are faced with issues and most importantly the Indo-Naga political issue where we cannot at all undermine the underground factor in elections and if my memory is not short the Congress walkover in 1998 election by going against the call of Naga NGOs and undergrounds and for which we the Congress had to pay the price by bringing back only 21 MLA in 2003 election” the worker wrote. 

The Goa Governor is appealed to by the worker to “save the Congress in the State from further ruining by not coming to Nagaland if at all you love the Congress family.”