Nagaland at Crossroads : What is the Way Forward?
By Dr. K. Hoshi | EMN
How is Nagaland? The general response is; “Everything is collapsing”. Nagaland is at crossroads. People are tired of the sorry state of affairs prevalent. Everything has come to standstill. All development activities have come to grinding halt. The roads are turning from bad to worst. Bridges have collapsed. Road accidents have become daily occurrence causing preventable casualties. Natural calamities are causing havoc due to substandard works. The State’s financial health has not improved. Instead, the fiscal deficit keeps on growing higher and higher. State’s economy has become crony capitalism making the rich, richer and the poor, poorer. Market economy has become syndicate economy. Lawlessness has become law and order. Delivery of essential services to the public has become regularly irregular. Public employment has changed from front door to backdoor appointment. Many government hospitals and health centers are without doctors and nurses. Free medicines in government hospitals are thing of the past. Sophisticated diagnostic medical equipments in government hospitals gather dust and lie idle as mere showpieces. Government schools are without teachers in some and with proxy teachers in others. Many schools have only ghost and bogus teachers. Teachers are on strike frequently, protesting against non-payment of salaries. Government schools producing nil result in HSLC are increasing year after years. The benefits for old age and disabled do not reach the beneficiaries. If not for want of space, the list can go on. A one-word description for all these sorry state of affairs will be ‘CHAOS’. The kind of anarchy that is prevalent in Nagaland today occurs only in stateless politics. People want new order from this anarchy.
The cry for change is getting louder day by day. People undoubtedly want change of power because power is the center of change. Election is the process to bring change in power politics. In democracy, election is a constitutional requirement, unavoidable. Corrupt elections manufactured corrupt leaders and corrupt governments. State general election, due in early 2018 will be the defining moment for Nagaland. Citizens have identified corrupt elections as the root cause of all our problems. We want clean election but we do not want honest voting. This is the paradox of our problems. If Nagas want clean election to elect clean leaders and get clean government, it is the responsibility and duty of every elector to participate in election and vote honestly. If you keep your slot open for somebody to cast proxy vote, you fail on your part.
The great philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus said; “CHANGE is the only constant”. In other words, nothing remains in the same state forever. Large sections of people want change. Yet, it is not without an equally opposing force. There is anti-change bandwagon too. They are people enjoying the fruits of power now. They prefer status quo because they fear that change will displace them. Thus, the battle is status quo versus change. Anywhere in the world, ‘political change’ most commonly came by people’s active participation in election process. Sometimes the popularity of a dynamic leader brought change. At other times, it was the popularity of a political party. In many instances, the personality/charisma and dynamism of a popular leader decided the fate of a political party. Conversely, the greatness of a political party catapulted many leaders from oblivion to prominence. These things give us clear message that the ‘CHANGE’ people of Nagaland too desire can come only by choosing the right platform (read party) or the right leader or both. Regrettably, pro-change people still seems undecided on the right party and/or the right leaders. They are still unorganized. Concretized plan to carry out the process for change has not emerged. The indecision or delayed decision may be because, people of Nagaland are unhappy with whatever parties available at hand. A political messiah too is yet to appear. People have seen the credibility of a political party and its government in the integrity of its leaders. This is a clear message to political parties that this time round, people are awake and alert. This is a wakeup call to political parties and leaders who matter that they cannot take people for granted anymore.
Election 2018 is just few months away. Pro-change people need to concretize plans, organize and get set to go. It is high time for pro-change people to choose a political party and leader(s). Choose a political party that offers the most realistic manifesto. It is high time political parties unveil their manifestoes for people to make a choice. In the past elections, people hardly voted on political party’s manifesto. In the coming election, electors should vote, based on election manifesto. Manifesto of a political party will be the roadmap of the new government. The election manifesto will guide the party’s government in implementing its promises. Individual promises made by deceptive leaders have no power to influence the policies and programs of the government. In fact, it has influenced the elected to corrupt in order to fulfill the personal demand of an elector. If Nagas want change, electors should vote for general interest and not for individual benefit. In the past, political parties hardly implemented their promises made in their election manifestoes. They throw away their manifestoes after elections. Nobody questioned them because people hardly read the election manifestoes of the political parties. In the coming election, people should read the election manifestoes of the political parties, not just once but as frequently as possible, because that will be the most effective weapon to charge the new government for its non-performance. Choose leaders of integrity and principle. Nagaland is in bad shape. Is Nagaland suffering from leadership famine? Is mediocrity leadership the cause of instability? Nagaland needs leaders of wisdom, knowledge and vision to correct the wrongs and give new direction. Choose leaders who will not be power-hungry to cause instability to government but provide stability and progress. Electors need to elect strong leaders who can take Nagaland in fast forward mode. Nagaland cannot afford to elect weak leaders who may become liabilities to the State. On political front, choose representatives who have potentials to give statesmanship to Nagaland’s politics. Choose leaders who can apply their own minds and safeguard constitutional guarantees for Nagas as enshrined in Article 371A. On economic front, choose leaders who will exercise fiscal discipline and honor austerity calls. Nagas cannot go on depending on Delhi only. We need to throw away our begging bowl. We need to generate own revenue from internal resources available. We need to stop Delhi from bullying us and dictating terms on us at all times. Nagas will need leaders with large hearts in the new government to look beyond Delhi for development of Nagaland. We need leaders who will have all seriousness and expertise to fight for our economic rights. If Delhi will not give us, it has no right to stop us from looking beyond.
The future of Nagaland delicately hangs in 2018 election. Fiscally speaking, Nagaland is already a liability State. Another bad election may land Nagaland to end up as failed state and compel the Union government to take over the administration. As it stands today, it appears that election 2018 will give a fractured mandate. This is evident from the fact that, as of now, no political party commands lead over the other. The experience of twelfth NLA proved that neither absolute majority nor alliance politics had provided stable government to Nagas. This is a clear message that numbers are not the sole determinant of govt.’s stability. Opposition-less, party-less government gave Nagas nothing but instability and corruption. An effective opposition is indispensable for a vibrant democracy. Defection politics by elected members betrayed people’s mandate and promises made in their political parties’ manifestoes. Nagas need to elect leaders who will honor people’s mandate for the term elected and be prepared to play effective opposition role if that is the mandate they received. If Nagaland is to progress, the next government will be hard-pressed to take many unpalatable decisions. No doubt, a decisive mandate will be required for that. Nevertheless, it has become clear that Nagas should not give the kind of overwhelming majority to power mongers who constantly fight for ministerial berth. Nagas should vote out leaders who think they cannot deliver unless they become ministers or hold other offices of profit. The reality of downsizing is there to stay. Nagas should elect leaders who will have the humility and interest to serve the people as MLAs.
If Nagas must participate in another election, the only way to get good government is to elect honest leaders. People who entered the house of power by using illegal and unconstitutional methods and created myriads of problems for Nagaland will create more problems for Nagaland. They will not give solutions. Corrupt elections were the root cause of successive corrupt governments. Honest vote is the only way to elect clean leaders. Money was the root cause of all time high dirty elections. The only power to defeat money power is truth. The only truth is honesty with your single vote. Ultimately, the electors will decide the future of Nagaland by your single vote. The choice is yours but the right choice is for Nagaland. Nevertheless, if Nagas cannot stop another cycle of corrupt election, what is the option to prevent it?