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By Oken Jeet Sandham
The general publics in Nagaland had not thought that they would enjoy a better living condition and see better governance when TR Zeliang took over as new chief minister (CM) of the state from Neiphiu Rio, who became the lone Nagaland Member of Parliament, on May 24 this year. There was no jubilation among the large sections of the people in Nagaland either when such change of guard took place.
Why was the jubilation not happening in Nagaland when Zeliang became the CM? Because the people of the state hardly believed that the new CM would do magic in reviving the fragile economy. The only general mood of the state was the new BJP-led NDA Government at the Center headed by dynamic Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi would give some succors to Nagaland. This general mood was strengthened mainly because the DAN-III Government headed by Zeliang was also an important ally of the NDA Government at the Center.
In fact, hordes of ministers, parliamentary secretaries of the Zeliang Government, as soon as they came to power, made multiple trips to national capital meeting with various union ministers of their concerned departments with beautiful bouquets, colorful Naga shawls, jackets and waistcoats presenting them. On top of it, our CM also made a high profile meetings with the PM, Home Minister, etc. When media persons asked about their meetings with Central leaders, their answers were: “Courtesy calls.”
I don’t know what was going on. If their series of meetings with Central leaders were “courtesy calls,” then something was wrong. But later, it had come to light that our ministers and parliamentary secretaries made frantic attempts in pleading with central leaders to rescue their precarious financial positions. Even the CM made an ardent plea to the PM to give the state a “One-time-grant” to wipe out the state’s deficit amounting to Rs 1234.00 crore.
Whenever enquired about the responses from the central leaders of their ardent pleas, most of our ministers and parliamentary secretaries’ replies were: “They (central leaders) gave us a patient hearing.” We hardly came across any news that the central leaders were giving any commitment to rescue financial problems of their respective departments.
Yet, sources revealed that some departments received some funds, might not be significant. At the same time and most enigmatic is nobody knows the exact financial position of the state but looking at the present scenarios, the state appears to be in dire straits.
Now from all the available sources and also looking at the way PM Modi functions his Government at the center, the state must tighten their belt and must take austerity measures. It is not convincing when some ministers or parliamentary secretaries attributed state’s poor finances to the award of the 13th Finance Commission. It is rather more confusing when some comment that the state’s economy will improve after the 14th Finance Commission begins. There is still no guarantee that the 14th Finance Commission will make the state financially stable if we continue profligate spending culture. The only option is we have to tighten the belt and take austerity measures.
Since his becoming CM of Nagaland five months back, Zeliang kept drawing flaks from various quarters for his inapt handling of some very sensitive issues like Assam-Nagaland border, hurried oil explorations, etc. and, of course, his inability to future financial forecast of the state.
Unfortunately, there are still dissidents within his ruling party expressing their opinions on his poor style of leadership, though some feel he should be given some more time as five months are too short to prove his caliber as CM. He is largely seen as politically inefficient in keeping his flocks together. Yet, if the present political trend within the ruling NPF party continues, it is clear that the fragile state will mark an all-time low soon in its governance and affairs.