The outcome of the Nagaland election was a foregone conclusion and on March 2, my prediction turned true. Of course, I was not alone in predicting the outcome, because how does a ruling coalition lose an election when there is no opposition, right?
But that matter is already over, so let us leave that behind.
The new government in Nagaland will, like the last time, again be an opposition-less government. All, it seems, in an attempt to solve the Naga political issue.
Which makes me wonder: if this is the reason cited this time, does this imply that the previous opposition-less government failed to achieve anything significant? Let us not forget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was over a year into his tenure when the Indian government and NSCN had entered into a ‘historic agreement’. Never a person who does not hype his achievements, Modi tweeted: “Today, we mark not merely the end of a problem but the beginning of a new future.”
And here we are, in 2023, exactly where we started. What will the opposition-less government do differently? Also, let us not forget that even before claims of opposition-less government began emerging, it was already clear that with NDPP at 25 and the BJP at 12, the allies anyway had the outright mandate. Count in at least two of the 4 independent and LJP MLAs, and the number crosses 40. It is unlikely that 20 MLAs, for reasons that no one can provide, would block a solution to a problem that concerns every Naga, not just those living in Nagaland.
And that is where I think this claim that an opposition-less government will solve the Naga political issue is nothing more than an insidious attempt to hide the greed of politicians.
Nagas often mention their territory is divided at several levels: first, between Myanmar and India and within India, between Nagaland and neighbouring states like Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. How does an opposition-less government in Nagaland help in this situation? And what about Myanmar?
I have previously stayed away from speaking much on the Naga political issue because there is not much to say, and that, again, is because the Central and state governments have absolutely failed at finding any solution. If anything, the opposition would have ensured that democracy, which, let us be honest, is still finding its feet in Nagaland, would work the way it was supposed to work. A vocal opposition would have raised pertinent questions, flagged any concerns, and helped people get a more holistic view of the progress that could be made. Instead, we will have a bunch of MLAs who will work very hard to recover the millions they spent trying to win the elections so that they can win again in 2028.
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For now, the BJP’s battles are over in the Northeast. It retained Tripura and Nagaland and failed miserably in Meghalaya, returning to ally with a party Home Minister Amit Shah called the most corrupt in India. I am absolutely sure that the Naga political issue will remain in cold storage until the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. The BJP has bigger concerns right now, including doing everything to retain Karnataka, its only stronghold in South India.
Also, let us not forget, the framework agreement is just that: a framework, not the final agreement. What will it take for the agreement to be final in nature? I am no expert on conflict resolution, but an opposition-less government is not one of them. The double-engine government in Nagaland has not managed to give its people all-weather roads. So, while the idea that the MLAs are ‘united’ in solving a long-standing dispute is nice, the truth is, one can do that while staying in opposition too. The opposition-less system does not augur well for democracy. All leaders ‘together’ and no one to question the government? Does that sound like democracy to you? Not to me.
Also Read | Nagaland, Meghalaya 2023: Any guesses for the biggest loser this election?
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