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Caught by surprise

Jan 31, 2013 ,

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Congress Party yet to gear up for the polls in Nagaland


Top functionaries within UPA government and the Congress Party had no idea of the schedule of the assembly poll in Nagaland. They had told Nagaland Congress leaders that the assembly poll would be postponed till the next six months. That is why, the Congress Party had not even constituted screening committee for the state. The committee was announced only after the announcement of the poll schedule for the Nagaland assembly by the Election Commission on January 11.

Interestingly, Congress central election committee headed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi had finalized the list for Meghalaya and Tripura by January 11. But in case of Nagaland, even Pradesh Election committee is yet to meet and the central election committee of the party will not be able to finalize the list in next 10 days as the party high command will be busy in Jaipur Chintan Shivir.

As regards Nagaland Pradesh Congress, the party in last five years had changed Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader and
Pradesh congress President three times and it seems the Pradesh Congress will give cakewalk to the ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) led by N. Rio to have third consecutive victory. The party high command is also not bothered and has changed three general secretaries incharge of Nagaland. The faction ridden Congress in Nagaland may split if the party high command does not stop the senior leader S C Jamir from contesting poll, say many senior Congress leaders of Nagaland.

However, poll observers on Nagaland say that the Congress will not even reach the tally of 10 seats in the House of 60 and possibly the NPF led by N. Rio will get absolute majority for the first time after he left Congress Party way back in 2002 to bunch his new political outfit (NPF) to challenge the Congress.

In the last two assembly poll in 2008, the NPF could manage the magic figure of 31 seats with the support of allies. But this time, itseems the Front is not facing any challenge from the main opposition party, the Congress.

A very senior AICC functionary told UTS’ VOICE that the party high command is least bothered about the downfall of the party in
Nagaland as the ruling NPF has been supporting the UPA led govt. at the Centre since 2004 and will continue get support if the party returns to power in 2014 Lok Sabha poll.

In North- East region, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim, Party workers at the grassroots level are really very disenchanted as they feel that the party high command is not interested in gearing up the party in these three states.

In Sikkim, the Congress Party never got people’s mandate to govern the state after its merger in India way back in 1975. In Tripura, the party has been out of power since 1998.

Nagaland Congress workers have been cursing their leadership both at centre and the state for failing the expectation of party workers. Nagaland Congress workers, who are very keen to throw NPF led govt. out of power as people are fed up with its non-governance, believe that the leaders of the party are getting their political benefits and personal gains. Even some state party leaders believe that the third consecutive defeat in 2013 assembly poll will finish the party like it happened in Tripura where the party tally has come down to nine seats in the House of 60 seats.

However, it is interesting to note that the president of NPCC S I Jamir is confident that if the party high command gives free hand to state unit to decide the candidate, the Congress will defeat hand- down to NPF as 10 year anti incumbency is very strong.

S I Jamir, brother of the former Nagaland chief minister S C Jamir, says that the Congress party will repeat Mizoram mode when the party high command had given a free hand to PCC chief Lal Thanhawla for selection of candidates in all 40 assembly seats in 2008. The party returned to power in Mizoram after ten years rule of the Mizo National Front.

According to PCC President S I Jamir, the Election Commission must ensure free and fair poll in Nagaland in light of the possible interference of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN – IM) in poll process. He believes that NSCN (IM) will not disturb the democratic right of Nagaland’s people and allow them to elect their representatives in free and fair manner.

“The ceasefire, signed by NSCN (IM), has always been violated and the Congress Party has been victim of NSCN (IM) diktat in 2003 and 2008 assembly poll,” says Nagaland PCC President. It has been wide perception in Nagaland that the election will not be free and fair as in past also when S C Jamir was at the helms of affairs. Poll observers on Nagaland say that the state is yet to witness democratic elected government and people of Nagaland have ever opportunity to participate in the poll in free and fair manner. The terror of bullet always prevailed there.

Since the inception of statehood in 1960s, Nagaland has been facing insurgency and election after election, people of the state witnessed cocktail of democracy. That is why, both the ruling and the opposition in Nagaland had urged the Centre to have peace first and the election thereafter. It is noted here that the peace talk, between the Centre and NSCN (IM) & other insurgent outfits begun in late 1990s, is still inconclusive and thus the coming poll will be just a formality in the name of democracy.

A sitting MLA’s openly admitted that he has never gone to people for seeking their mandate and always preferred to seek support of NSCN (IM) to get elected for four successive terms in the Nagaland assembly. Such admission by a public representative exposes the democracy and establishes the rule of terror. Will the vibrant democracy of India allow the rule of terror in Nagaland? Will the Election Commission look into to facilitate Nagaland people to have a democratically elected government? UTS’

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