Wednesday, December 08, 2021
image
Op-Ed

Multi President’s Rule In Nagaland

1
By EMN Updated: Sep 18, 2013 12:42 am
A A A

Dr. K. Hoshi

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] READ with disappointment an article titled “President’s Rule not a word of blessing” written by S. Chuba Longkumer, MLA and Vice Chairman, NASMB that appeared in local dailies on September 12, 2013. The article touched some points where the Congress was projected negatively on two issues; promulgation of PRs in Nagaland and NNO’s merger with INC. As a loyal Congressman, I’m obliged to respond and set the record straight.Nagaland came under the spell of President’s Rule on four occasions; first from 20th March 1975 to 25th November 1977 (32 months 5 days), second from 7th August 1988 to 25th January 1989 (5 months 18 days), third from 2nd April 1992 to 22nd April 1993 (12months 20 days) and lastly, from 3rd January 2008 to 12th March 2008 (2 months 9 days).
Of all the four PRs, the first was not only the longest but also the worst experience. It was this PR that the people are reminded of the bitter experiences every time the demand for PR is made by the opposition. This PR was peculiar from others for the following reasons.
The Naga Nationalist Organization (NNO) had won absolute majority in the first two State general elections in a house of 40 members. NNO was in power for two consecutive terms from February 1964 to February 1974. However, in the third general election in 1974, the NNO won only 22 seats while the United Democratic Front (UDF) won 26 seats in a house of 60 members. The UDF formed the government with the help of the 12 Independents by offering lucrative Cabinet berths.
Defections from the United Democratic Front (UDF) brought about the collapse of its one year old government in Nagaland on March 9, 1975. Again 10 MLAs cross the floor to join the UDF, ending the life of the 11-day old Naga Nationalist Organization (NNO) government on 20th March 1975 resulting in promulgation of President’s rule in the state. Thus, PR was invited by UDF defectors and not imposed as erroneously projected.
Two months after imposition of PR in Nagaland, a state of national emergency was declared on 26th June 1975 under Article 352 of the Constitution of India, effectively suspending elections and civil liberties. The emergency lasted till 21st March 1977 (21 months). The Nagas faced untold sufferings due to army excesses. The national emergency, coupled with intensified operations against insurgents created the terrible situation. It still haunts the hearts of those Nagas who had faced that situation. It could not be forgotten easily. But subsequent PRs had proved the changed scenario.
The apprehension was allayed by none other than the former Governor of Nagaland K. Sankaranarayanan. Following the promulgation of PR in Nagaland on 6th January 2008, while addressing a high level security meeting with the senior police and para-military officers at the Police H.Q he stated that (quote) “The current President’s Rule in Nagaland was not ‘Army Rule’ as the responsibility of running the administration, law and order was being shared between the Civil administration, police and the Governor”.
Article 356 of the Constitution is very clear on the provisions for promulgation of State emergency/PR in the State. One interpretation of this article is that, PR can be an invited one when the government of the day creates a fluid situation caused by various crises; particularly on law and order front and financial crisis. It is the duty and responsibility of an elected government to prevent breakdown in constitutional machinery and uphold democracy in letter and spirit. Democracy is not derailed by PR but by Govt.’s failures. The opposition has the right to demand for PR when they are convinced that they have valid grounds to make their points. When a formal demand is made, the ultimate decision entirely rests with the Governor who will not act blindly but wisely.
PRs in recently years were quite different from PR during the national emergency when elections and civil liberties were suspended. In fact, the brief spell of PR in 2008 saw some signs of changes in the conditions of the roads within 2 months that people realized PR was after all, not as bad as perceived. The primary objective of PR is to restore order from the mess created by the unpopular government. Therefore, it is not wise to mislead the public with malicious propaganda from one bitter experience to create unnecessary fear psychosis purely for the sake of gaining cheap political mileage.
As to the statement that after its defeat in 1974, merging with national party was the only option for NNO, history was quite the opposite. After the creation of Nagaland State through 16-point agreement, first state general election was called on 10th January 1964. There were no recognized political parties at that time. When the Democratic Party (DP) with Cock as its symbol was formed by some retired government servants of the erstwhile Assam Civil services, other Naga leaders who were mostly other members of Naga Peoples’ Convention (NPC) went on to form the NNO. The Democratic Party being formed by retired government servants was largely accepted as the national party because of its tilt/former allegiance towards the government. Whereas, the NNO formed by regional minded leaders was viewed as the regional party because of its regional ideology.
The NNO merged with the Congress (I) on 19th June 1976. Incidentally, the DP had unsuccessfully tried to merge with the Indian National Congress (INC) prior to the merger of NNO with Congress (I). The UDF resolution No.2 of its Central Executive Committee meeting held on 14th & 15th December 1976 stood a living proof. Therefore, polarization of political parties in Nagaland that stands today is a case of juxtaposition; the national party (DP) evolving into regional party (NPF) and regional party (NNO) evolving into national party (INC).
The NNO did not merge with the Congress (I) blindly but with visionary 10-point modalities regarding the functional autonomy in matters of the affairs of the State. Modality No.4 stated that “The basic political and socio-economic program of the party shall be to preserve the Naga Identity and to develop the Naga way of life”.
(Sources : 1. “Formation of Nagaland State & The formation of the Nagaland Nationalist Organization & its merger with the Indian National Congress Party” written by Shri. Chingwang Konyak, former PCC President and incumbent Advisor to the Chief Minister of Nagaland. 2. My Reminiscences by R.C. Chiten Jamir).

The writer is a member of PCC

1
By EMN Updated: Sep 18, 2013 12:42:52 am