Too Little Too Late
The government’s decision to cancel the Urban Local Bodies election in the state is finally done officially with the state election commission giving its notification seven days after the state cabinet had declared it null and void acceding to the demands of the civil societies only after violence erupted and 2 persons died during police firing. However it is a decision that is too late and too little for the government as the civil societies instead are currently demanding the resignation of the chief minister and his cabinet .
With a last ditch effort to salvage the government from imminent toppling or a change of guard the ruling party and its various functionaries and divisions have suddenly taken the role of intercessors on one hand and also blaming the civil societies for the vandalism, deaths and injuries. The intention to turn back the clock purely to justify the series of wrong decisions of the government is starkly evident. There also has been a deluge of attorneys in defence of the government that have suddenly surfaced in the past few days all pleading in defence of the government. The newspapers at present in Nagaland has become the biggest courtroom with the people as the audience as well as the judge.
The Municipal Affairs Department after a failed attempt to rebut the legal opinions of the Nagaland Bar Association that Nagaland does not come under the preview Part IX A of the constitution also came out of hibernation. Though the email to all the media house was sent through the media cell of the Chief Minister’s Office they can be given the benefit of doubt since all government offices are not functioning at present in the state. So the department also decided to come out with the list of important events pertaining to the ULBs after the election have been made null and void. It does mention the Assembly Resolution of September 22 2012, that set aside the applicability of Part IX A of the constitution in the state. But on further reading, it is found that the government took the advice of its senior advocate of the supreme court to settle the matter out of court since the Assembly resolution “is merely an expression of intention to do something”. This resulted in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly proactively revoking its earlier Assembly resolution. It sounds like a sell-out because the Assembly resolution of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly based on Article 371(A) cannot be contested in any court of law, if it is the contrary then it is the duty of the government to defend it. Period.
More attorneys on behalf of the government keeps coming with their own versions of how the government’s actions were genuinely good for the people. In the process, a minister is also now embroiled in debate with the Nagaland Bar Association on who can interpret law. The minister was of the view that only the Advocate General of the state can make a statement about an Act and that no one can interpret the Law or the Constitution. To which the NBA retorted that every citizen can interpret the law to ones understanding as freedom of expression is a fundamental right. The NBA has demanded apology from the minister concerned and withdraw his statements since it is detrimental to the legal fraternity in the discharge of their lawful duty in legal practice.
One of the most illogical reasoning came from the chief minister when he tried to justify the government’s act of reneging the tripartite agreement of January 30 saying that the JCC and NBCC misunderstood him. Strictly speaking, when the chief minister said that their understanding or thoughts were different from those of the JCC and the NBCC when the agreement was signed only invites misgivings of craft being applied by the government. Agreements are never signed on assumptions. Period. His clarification, though accompanied with an apology, has instead hurt the sentiments of the people more especially the kith and kin of the deceased and the injured.
Likewise the sentiments of the majority of people even across gender lines have been hurt and in spite of the almost courtroom like drama in the newspapers every day the scale is yet to tilt to the side of the government. The reason is that the government and the proponents of the election to the municipalities seems to have forgotten one basic trait of the Nagas. The people are aware of the inconsistencies of the statements by the tribal leaders, they are also aware of the corruption that had crept into the tribe organisations over the years, they are also aware of the regional and tribal bloc agendas being played out among the tribes. However, any threat against their tribe and their identity either real or perceived will be fiercely defended. It is this trait that has kept alive the Naga identity distinct even in this century. Although it is true that the various laws and regulations including Article 371(A) have protected the land and the identity of the people, but the fact is that it is this trait of the Nagas that even made it possible to demand such special provisions in the Constitution of India in the first place. The government missed the opportunity to educate the people if its intentions were truly good. Here’s a rough translation of a Naga traditional wisdom, “Do not strike the tree stump after the crow has flown.”