The East and West Arch
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he more closely one looks at the way the Lok Sabha polls are playing out in Nagaland, it appears to be running parallel with what is taking place in the national arena.
It begins with the candidate fighting the election from the extreme opposite ends of the country.
While Neiphiu Rio the consensus candidate of the NPF led DAN alliance is incumbemt Chief Minister of Nagaland so is Narendra Modi, Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP current Chief Ministers of Gujarat.
Analysts across the country have been describing the 2014 General Elections as one of the most unique elections in India since Independence. More so as elections in the past have been personality centric …but the personality contest this time is proving no match and turning out to be more of a referendum on one personality …Narendra Modi.Likewise here in Nagaland with an opposition virtually non -existent in the state, the results of the poll have been a foregone conclusion as going in favour of the incumbent Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio. His candidacy has also ushered in a never before experienced situation for the NPF regional party now into the third year of governing the state.
That there would be difficulty within the party when it came to the transfer of power after Rio leaves the state for Delhi was foreseen. It was one of the grounds on which fervent appeals were made to Rio to reconsider his candidacy. But what was not known was the degree of differences within the party. Now that the fault-lines have been manifest in the various reports that have been appearing daily, it is little wonder that all the legislatures were reluctant to let Rio leave the state.
After all as Chief Minister it is pretty apparent now what Rio has had to contend with, especially the checks and balances that he has had to maintain to hold the centre together.
The coming week will be crucial as to how the state’s leaders play out this “crisis” they have brought upon themselves and in doing so indirectly affecting the people of the state.
This is no time to squabble over power. It is time to stare at the responsibilities ahead and who can best maneuver the state through the myriad challenges it finds itself in today. Hopefully the leaders are discussing and debating on these lines.
Nagaland is not an island.
It has first to repair its relationships immediately with its neighbours, in Assam, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh. Even as this is being written border disputes led to the adjournment of polls in Ladaigarh Polling Station ,under 49- Tamlu constituency, 302 Nagas were denied the right to cast their votes.
After a persistent and laudible follow up by the state government machinery the voters will now cast their franchise freely in an undisputed polling station
on May 10. Their votes must count and matter for leaders who mould the direction and future of our state.
The point being made that our border diplomacy is hitting ground zero and the government must pay serious attention to this.
News is also gathering momentum of an economic blocckade by Karbi Anglong if the encroachment in the Dikoi area is not halted. If Nagaland has the right to land and property by all means, it must be stated clearly so and if the matter is sub-judice, the government must ensure that we ( Nagas ) are not the ones to violate the status quo.
We cannot afford to alienate our neigbours. Ours is a landlocked state and as ugly as it might read, our survival depends on keeping these lifelines undisturbed for almost everything …. from medical needs, food supplies, education, commerce etc
The state government also must read into what a Modi led government at the centre (if indeed the verdict on May 16 ends on such an arrangement) has envisaged. This will help the NPF legislators look for the right man for the right post.
Modi’s talk of India is about it becoming a “global manufacturing hub”, promising a Diamond Quadrilateral of high-speed bullet trains, focusing on the development of 100 new cities, even wishing to embark upon a semblance of the export -led growth trajectory of the Asian Tigers and China, and proposing significant port building programmes, basically underlying the sentiment of creation of , ‘jobs’.
What Modi is talking is not very different from what the Congress had envisaged for the last ten years but failed to implement.
The NPF has ruled the state for ten years. An opportunity is perhaps at hand to make the most of the moment in the state’s history where the state leadership must hook up with the pulse of the government at the centre.
And by all accounts if a Modi led government is to come to the seat of power, the man has his priorities set out. He has spelt out a rigorous infrastructure programme, realising that nothing – not factories and not cities, not even Walmart’s cold storages as and when they appear – will work without fixing electricity and energy sources, and fixing coal and mining. As in Gujarat, he has embraced the idea of globalisation.
And these initiatives will require collaboration and synergy between the Union government and individual state governments, overcoming political differences.
Modi if he comes to power maybe ready to propel change on the assumption that the Indian society is ready for such.
Similarly in this eastern corner of India, the change-over of stewardship in the state must consider the position that Nagaland will find itself once a new government is in place in Delhi.
It will have to tackle the Indo – Naga political issue as well as battle the many small fires that are being lit, baggage of an unresolved conflict.
In the light of all needs to be addressed the “power struggle” may seem a minor quibble in the context of promised stability to the people of the state.
The current “impasse” within the NPF best be viewed as backyard booby traps that could pose a challenge to the unity of the regional fabric.
This in turn will adversely impact the influence of Rio as Chairman of the Northeast Regional Partiies Forum hoping to win a few seats and strike a bargain at the centre.
One thing is clear. Whichever way the crisis within the NPF is handled it will have changed all the players, and certainly the voters in Nagaland.