Setting Wrong Precedents
The political circus that is being played out in the state since January 2015 took a turn for the worse on Saturday when the dropped Parliamentary Secretary, MMhonlumoi Kikon told media that he came to know of his name being dropped through a messenger service on his phone. It also came at a time when the elected representative was out of the state attending a youth summit.
To refresh one’s memory, the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries/Advisers was the workaround for Nagaland after the 91st Amendment Act 2003 of the Constitution of India was passed which stipulated that the number of ministers in the state cannot exceed 15% of the total numbers of seats in the state assembly. It may have defeated the very objective of the 91st Amendment but ironically it somehow works in Nagaland to maintain stability.
Though Nagaland is geographically small it is quite diverse and the pioneers of the state divided the districts and assembly constituencies on traditional lines of tribe and region. This might have given some form of security to the people who came out of trauma and sufferings after the turbulent times before statehood when the Indian Army conducted its operation against the Naga nationalists. The 91st amendment 2003 was one of the biggest blow to the Nagas when the government had to downsize the ministry and it rattled the then Neiphiu Rio government.
The continuance of these posts may be left for another discourse and debate but the point is that a Parliamentary Secretary / Adviser is the Naga version of a Minister and an elected representative’s electorate also considers it so and reveres that position. Moreover the appointment too is made solely by the chief minister and is solely reserved for members of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly. Any minister/parliamentary secretary/adviser being appointed or dropped therefore automatically is always felt on tribal/region lines.
However, in the present case the notification leaking out into social media through messenger services should be the bigger concern and deserves condemnation from all especially the legislators across part-lines. The government is not liable to give a reason for dropping and it is also agreed that it is solely the prerogative of the chief minister to appoint and drop at his pleasure the minister as well as the parliamentary secretaries/advisers. Just as the required protocols are maintained when appointment to these posts are made the dropping of names also requires at least some courtesy from the office concerned. It can be unintentional, but the government notification being circulated in social media before the person concerned was intimated shows the government and the cabinet office in a very poor light. An enquiry and a clarification from the cabinet office of the chief minister’s office will be the only solution to ensure that this is an exceptional case else it gives one a shudder if this is what we are going to set as a precedent for the future.