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By Oken Jeet Sandham
The cent percent voting in favor of the historic “Confidence Motion” moved by Chief Minister (CM) TR Zeliang was not unexpected. In fact, this writer, at a press conference by TR at his official residence on February 3, two days ahead of the much awaited and talked “Confidence Motion,” only told him that the Kaito group would, probably, vote in favor of the “Confidence Motion.” But he was cautioned that the problem would still continue soon after the “Confidence Motion” as the group would with renewed strategy take on his leadership.
Exactly, after the “Confidence Motion” on February 5, the Kaito group held a Press Conference at Hotel Vivor at 4:30 PM. All the 21 MLAs, MP Neiphiu Rio and former MP Imchalemba were among others during their press conference. They said their “opposition to the leadership of TR Zeliang continues and we will continue our legitimate demand for him to step down as the Chief Minister.”
However, Zeliang’s major threat soon after the “Confidence Motion” is apparently seen not from Kaito group but going alongside the Congress while BJP already in his DAN Government, because these two giant political parties are traditional political rivals across the country.
The BJP’s one and only objective is to finish “Congress bastions” wherever they are and their political rivalries are too deep to come to terms even in political expediencies. In fact, BJP’s getting 282 MPs in last 16th Lok Sabha elections was mainly from the Congress bastions. This humiliation at the hands of the BJP party has forced the Congress to rethink and re-strategize to fight back in every possible manner. In reality, these two political parties can’t go together. It is simply not possible.
Looking at this seemingly impossible scenario, one wonders as to how Zeliang will keep the two political parties with their diametrically opposite political ideologies and principles in the same house.
In the past, there was unexpected political development where the Congress came to rescue the beleaguered regional party and ran the affairs of the Government in the state. Vamuzo’s Joint Legislature Party (JLP) government was with the Congress in early 90s.
The case is that during Vamuzo’s time, it was only Congress backing his JLP government. But the current political development is different due to two national political rivals’ joining the DAN government.
For us in Nagaland, it may not look that serious but from the national point of view, it seems impossible for the two to have in the same boat.
We have already seen the warning bell from the BJP in the state saying that they would rethink their alliance with the DAN in view of the Congress’ imminent joining of the DAN coalition government. The Congress is yet to react to the development.
The theory of survival is nothing wrong but the question here is as to how two national political parties with absolutely opposite ideologies and principles will go together to run the affairs of the state. And most probably, the high commands of their respective political parties will not agree to the very idea that the affairs of the state will be run with their parties joining it. The BJP high command will not agree to the idea while also the Congress high command will object to the concept. Yet, the Congress in Nagaland is seen desperate for the survival and not even sure whether they will be coming back in the next state general elections if the trend on their side remains.
The Congress which was once the most powerful in the state was decimated in 2003 state general elections and since then, they have been in opposition while suffering decrease of their strength every after state general election. And today, they are 8 MLAs and their concept of joining the DAN Government is rather seen by many for survival. The Congress is gradually diminishing in the state.
However, the Congress voting in favor of the “Confidence Motion” moved by Zeliang would not have simply happened unless they were assured of their stakes in the DAN government. Because the survival of the “Confidence Motion” was at the mercy of the Congress and when things were clear that the Congress was to vote in favor of the “Confidence Motion,” the whole political equation changed. He cannot ignore that.
Simultaneously, the CM cannot afford antagonizing the BJP leaders who are at the helms of affairs at the Center. They will not definitely like to see that the Congress joining the DAN government in the state though their key role during the crucial “Confidence Motion” in the Assembly was known.
Now, Zeliang has an option. He may convince the Congress MLAs to merge with another political party which is not inimical to the BJP. If this formula is possible, then only will the BJP leaders at Delhi be convinced. But the question is with which party the Congress will merge. Merging either with NPF or BJP by 8 Congress MLAs may be the only way as of now. They may also study the prevailing situation within the two NPF groups as the Election Commission of India (ECI) is yet to give final verdict on the NPF’s “Cock Symbol.” They may prefer to wait till such time or may opt for merging with the BJP.
Will all the 8 Congress lawmakers in Nagaland agree to the idea of merging with any political parties? If they all agree, then there is no problem or at least, they need 2/3 legislators for merging with another political party as per the new Anti-Defection Law. Otherwise, they will face disqualification which they may not like.
On top of it, the CM still has herculean task as he has to accommodate Congress and the BJP legislators in his Council of Ministers. There are four vacancies of cabinet held earlier by NPF legislators. Now these vacancies may be filled up with Congress and BJP MLAs. Talks are doing the round that the Congress has been demanding four cabinet berths while BJP for two. However, it is believed that at least two cabinet ministers may be given to Congress while one to BJP. The remaining one cabinet may go to Phek district.
TR is now on the tight rope.