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Op-Ed

Interview of Kekhrie Yhome, Intending Candidate for 10 Northern Angami-1 by-election

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By EMN Updated: Jul 06, 2017 11:25 pm
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EM: There are rumours that Kohima Village Council (KVC) has taken a decision that nobody should stand against our present Chief Minister, Dr. Shürhozelie Liezietsu, in the upcoming by-election? Is this true?

Kekhrie Yhome: In the first place, this question should be addressed to KVC rather than me. I have not received any written decision to such effect. Moreover, KVC as a mature and the highest village body will not insist on creating such a new precedence by supporting an individual candidate.

Let me be very clear about one thing! Rumours persist because it is cheap political propaganda. The intention is motivated to create public disinformation and misinformation that an individual enjoys the total support of the village. Plus, it is an attempt to create an impression that I am a stumbling block to somebody’s career. I find these ancient and traditional arts of political assassinations senseless and outdated. Why is a sitting Chief Minister so anxious of facing a political novice?

Talking of rumours and political propaganda, would you believe that our Chief Minister recently gathered the frontal social organizations, along with many top government bureaucrats, from my village, at his official residence, and publicly distributed cash, and also tried to convince them through his political stooges that he should be elected unopposed? These events are recorded and documented. I don’t think many of my sensible villagers or elders were impressed. Social organizations cannot be purchased. Consensus is built from the middle of the village square; it cannot be manufactured. Let us start doing the right thing for our future.

EM: So, are you contesting the July 29 by-election having declared your candidature, earlier?

Kekhrie Yhome: Absolutely. With the announcement of by-election for the vacant 10 Northern Angami (I) Assembly Constituency on 29 July, 2017, by the Election Commission of India, I would definitely like to seek the popular mandate of the people as per democratic practices.

EM: How do you see yourself pitted against a sitting Chief Minister?

Kekhrie Yhome: The Chief Minister and I know each other personally. He is a consistent and thorough gentleman, truly blessed with innumerable success. He represents the best of the old generation. I have nothing personal against him. The Chief Ministership of Dr. Shürhozelie is a mere coincidence with my decision to enter politics. I can only wish him the best, should he decide to file his nominations and contest the by-elections too.

I am aware that the Chief Minister is using his party workers to distribute hundreds of Milton flasks and radios to entice voters. The items are a poor choice of taste for an urban area like Kohima and it is definitely in violation of the Model Code of Conduct. I have enough evidences and statements from those who received the items. Also, the Chief Minister’s office is using its machinery to entice voters with government jobs. I have already written to the election monitoring authorities that the decisions of the Chief Minister chaired Cabinet Meeting of 04 July, 2014 is a clear violation of the Model Code of Conduct. The law should soon take its course of action. Hopefully, these practices will change once we elect the right candidates.

 EM: Why are you contesting the by-election when general election is barely eight months from now on? What is your intention?

Kekhrie Yhome: I’ve been asked this question a number of times already. Again, on one level, it is an amusing political propaganda. On another level, this concern is there because people think that I should reserve my energy for the big battle, which is the general election next year. Energy, let me tell you frankly, here, means money. I can understand their genuine concerns. Then there is this general perception that election is all about money. They know my limited resources. They know how much my opponent may have! They want me to give my best shot rather than divide my energy between two elections, that too, in less than a year. It is funny that everyone seems to know their candidate’s wealth during elections! My wealth is the goodwill of the people. Eventually, that is the only thing that matters. Whether I have the money or not, I am not going to purchase votes. Every individual vote is sacrosanct. Every voter should be given a chance to vote for his/her choice of candidate. There is nothing more evil a practice than forcefully pulling away those standing in the queue or proxy casting their votes even before they reach the EVM.

EM: Perhaps you didn’t get the point here. Why are you not paving way for Dr. Shürhozelie to complete his tenure as Chief Minister? After all, he is an elderly politician?

Kekhrie Yhome: Your question outrightly sounds like an NPF propagandist at work. Let me set it straight. In the first place, this by-election has been necessitated not because of me. The necessity of this by-election was created because the son vacated his MLA seat, pre-supposedly to facilitate his father to continue as Chief Minister. The validity is only for six months. In a democratic country, there is no as such rule to say that 10 Northern Angami (I) is a dynasty constituency or that nobody should contest against any particular family. Members of the very political party who desperately wanted to have by-elections are now creating a ruckus by shouting that their candidate should be elected unopposed. It is very immature behaviour.

Similarly, whether it is general or by-elections, it is still an election. The issue of paving way for each other does not arise since both or all parties involved are trying to strengthen their positions. Only on 3 August, 2017, the peoples verdict will show which candidate enjoys their popular support. Also, hypothetically speaking, even if the Chief Minister returns successfully, there is no guarantee that the same post is reserved for him. It will be the other 59 legislators who will decide who should become the Chief Minister.

EM: As a young and energetic candidate, there is also a hope for change. What is your political agenda?

Kekhrie Yhome: It is too early to talk about political agenda. We have this endless habit of criticizing the very representatives we ourselves elect. We condemn the inaction of the very government we elect. Only by re-empowering the public that the real power of democracy remains in our sacrosanct vote, can we hope for any change. The desire for change is there. The belief for change is also there. However, the faith that we can actually change things seems to be missing. Once we see that our candidate can win elections without money-power, the power of the people will be reinstated. Once we see that our candidates can win without money against candidates who use a lot of money-power, the faith of the public can be restored. Once public faith is restored, once the public is empowered to form the government, only then can we start talking about public safety and developmental works. The situation is so bad that we need a new attitude, a new thinking and a new dream too!

As a young entrant, I want to quickly make some brief remarks. We need young legislators who will adapt to and challenge the needs of our times. The olden days of fooling our villagers by some few educated fellows are over. We need debates. We need progressive competition. Tirelessly shouting Article 371A is not going to take us anywhere. Look at the manner in which GST was but hurriedly passed over by a special assembly session, as if anybody understood its implications or urgency. If politics is about the power of policies to change the lives of people, it is our bounden duty to actively elect our right representatives, keeping in mind the constant need to prepare for our present welfare and for the care of our future.

EM: So, technically, are you toeing the clean election campaign?

Kekhrie Yhome: I am not merely endorsing but shall be a true champion of the much-misunderstood clean-election campaign. I believe change can come only when we accept and challenge the deepest fears and cynicism of our attitude and knowledge habits. I fully support the civil principles enumerated in the 2012 Working Committee on Clean Election Campaign. I also fully support the recent initiatives of the various church bodies, social and civil organizations, and the directives of the Election Commission. Let me also remind you that the November 21, 2016 “Statement of Commitment” given by the seven editors representing the seven major news dailies of Nagaland on ‘Clean Elections in Nagaland’ and ‘One Person – One Vote’ is very much appreciated. The feeling for change is already there; we need to make it real!

EM: From which party are you planning to contest the by-election? Has any political parties approached you to be their candidate?

Kekhrie Yhome: In regard to your second question, I want to recollect my earlier press conference where I said I am politically an orphan. I must say that things have changed now. I must thank the various political parties for approaching me and having faith in me to represent them. So, technically speaking, I also must say that we are now the big joint-family of all political parties except NPF.

And, tacitly, I shall be contesting the July by-election as an Independent Candidate.

EM: Well, all the best to you!

Kekhrie Yhome: Thank you very much! I look forward to not only your support but your active campaign in support. Every single vote counts. Every single vote must count.

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By EMN Updated: Jul 06, 2017 11:25:20 pm