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By Oken Jeet Sandham
TR Zeliang’s historic winning of the “Vote of Confidence” of his Government has completed one year. He moved the “Confidence Motion” of his Government when 22 NPF dissident legislators led by G Kaito Aye threw an unprecedented challenge to his leadership in the NPF legislature party. The NPF had 38 legislators then and after 22 legislators challenging his leadership, he was sent into a complete defenselessness. But he survived the first political storm because NPF President Dr. Shurhozelie had swiftly placed seven of them including Aye under suspension.
Soon, the beleaguered DAN Chief Minister turned the game of the NPF legislature leadership crisis into DAN Government crisis. The dissident NPF legislators criticized the move saying that they only challenged his leadership in the NPF legislature party. Interestingly, the dissident NPF legislators along with State’s two MPs had even paraded in front of Governor, PB Acharya, in Kohima Raj Bhavan.
Unfortunately, the State Government was kept in suspense for about a month as almost all the institutions in the State were completely paralyzed following two groups – one led by Zeliang and the other by Aye – camping at de Oriental Hotel, Kohima and at Sovima, 7th Mile, Dimapur respectively. The worse sufferers were the common men.
Acharya was finding difficulty as he could not interfere in a political party crisis while on the other, Zeliang managed to exhibit that all the legislators including eight Opposition Congress legislators in the State except that 22 dissident NPF legislators were on his side. And with all these unprecedented strange bedfellows, he was trying to shift his political battle from the NPF turf to the Assembly by smartly working on to move a “Confidence Motion” of his seven-month-old Government.
On 9 January 2015, Zeliang met Acharya with a proposal for the summoning of a Special Session of Nagaland Legislative Assembly for a “Confidence Motion” of his seven-month-old Government. Since no reply was forthcoming from the Governor, he had a “Cabinet Meeting” on 15 January 2015 and forwarded a recommendation for summoning a Special Session of Nagaland Legislative Assembly for a “Trial of Strength” of his government on 20 January 2015. This recommendation had literally sealed the Governor from seeking another route to delay his action. He (Governor) finally summoned a “Special Session” of Nagaland Legislative Assembly on February 5, 2015, for a “Trial of Strength” of Zeliang Ministry in Nagaland.
But this writer told Zeliang prior to the “Trial of Strength” of his Ministry that the dissident NPF legislators would never vote against it (Confidence Motion). And exactly, the dissident NPF legislators voted in favor of the “Confidence Motion.” But history was created not because the dissident NPF legislators voted in favor of the “Confidence Motion” but the eight Opposition Congress legislators’ voting in favor of the “Confidence Motion.” The entire Members of the House voted in favor of the “Confidence Motion.”
Zeliang later called it as “Opposition-less” and sometimes, interpreted the political drama as “coming together” for the sake of finding an honorable and permanent solution to the protracted Naga political issue. Yet, there seem to be hardly any takers of such gimmicks. The BJP, an ally of the ruling DAN that kept telling that they would never go together with the Opposition Congress, continued to be part of the ruling DAN in the State. In spite of such development, the BJP and the Congress legislators could run the affairs of the State. Later, the eight Congress legislators, however, merged with the ruling major NPF.
In fact, so many unfortunate developments had taken place in the last one year in the State. One of the major Naga underground outfits, NSCN (K) walked away from the 14-year old ceasefire with the Government of India. Eruptions of killings, ambushes, between the Security forces and the NSCN (K) started. Innocent minors and civilians lost their precious lives. We can still remember of the horrifying incidents at Wuzu in Meluri and Pangsha in Noklak. Banning of NSCN (K) for five years, extension of Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) in the entire State of Nagaland for another one year and more importantly, the Center’s declaration of the “Framework Agreement” with the NSCN (IM) were some of the significant developments that had taken place in last one year. The Government of India and the NSCN (IM) could not be convinced by the Zeliang’s Opposition-less Government to make public the contents of their “Framework Agreement” until today. It could not convince the Center to avoid hunting down the cadres of the NSCN (K) either.
It is very unfortunate that since the State has an Opposition-less Government, no “Question Hours” or “Debates” or “Discussions on any Public Importance” were there in the last couple of Assembly Sessions. It may be recalled that the last Nagaland Assembly Session had a record 25-minute Session – shortest in the history of Nagaland Assembly Sessions.
When the State was passing through a critical phase in view of the “Framework Agreement” between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM), and the State needed the most to have a series of debates on the Floor of Assembly, they didn’t do it. They could have even called a Special Session to deliberate on the declaration of the “Framework Agreement” and moved a Resolution to urge the parties to make public the contents of the Agreement. What happened to the “Opposition-less” Government? Were they not telling that they all came together as “Opposition-less” for the sake of finding honorable and permanent solution to the longstanding Naga issue?
Ours is a Welfare State and the Government should be transparent and accountable to its citizens. The people of the State appear to be watching the Government as they are headed to a very unpredictable future. It will be a very costly affair indeed if it fails to activate itself as a responsible Government. Opposition is essential not only in democracy but also for a vibrant and strong Government. Democracy is meaningless without Opposition. The people are in the dark indeed as there is no Opposition in the State.