Tobu (Mon), Feb. 15: The Congress today promised “change” to the people of the eastern districts while castigating the ruling Nagaland People’s Front for its divisive and retrogressive politics.
Promising a separate secretariat for the backward districts of Mon, Kiphire, Longleng and Tuensang, former chief minister S.C. Jamir told people at an election rally at this town in Nagaland’s Mon district that they need not travel all the way to Kohima any more if they voted Congress to power.
Asking people to vote for the Congress “for change”, Jamir promised all-round development of the backward districts through special initiatives. He said bad governa-nce and favouritism by chief minister Nephiu Rio and his cronies had deprived the people of eastern Nagaland of the fruits of development and had left them to their own fate.
He said all funds for development of backward areas were pocketed by certain sections of people and Rio. “Rio is tarnishing the image of Angami community and Nagas,” Jamir said.
Stating that Congress was a pro-people party, he said people, of particularly the four districts, had undergone untold sufferings. The Rio government, however, had always turned a blind eye towards this, he added.
He said the party would also establish a special branch to monitor implementation of job reservations for backward people in these districts along with better roads, better healthcare facilities, quality education, job avenues for youths and an equal share of development, unlike Rio, who he accused of concentrating on filling a few pockets in Kohima and Dimapur.
He also promised a masterplan and vision document for the backward districts for faster development, particularly focusing on better road connectivity with Myanmar.
The leader also promised attractive pension for those government employees who were forced to retire by the NPF government and revision of salaries of village guards.
Jamir said when he was the chief minister, people of the state lived like close relatives but Rio’s advent changed all this as he was more focussed on the issues of outsiders. He said that was the reason why the people of four districts felt that they were alienated and had been demanding a separate state.
The four districts, led by the Eastern Nagaland People’s Organisation (ENPO), have been demanding a separate state, Frontier Nagaland.
Accusing NPF of fragmenting Naga society, including militant groups, and making the state “more backward”, Jamir said this election would be a fight against money power and urged voters not to succumb to the lure of money. “Vote for change and enjoy the fruits of development.”
At Longchang in the same district, he asked people to have high hopes for the future.
Former deputy chief minister I.K. Sema, who accompanied Jamir, said the state first witnessed peace under the then Congress Prime Minister Narishma Rao and chief minister S.C. Jamir, and not under NPF, as claimed by Rio and his party. He said the NPF government had rather fragmented both overground and underground rebel groups and Naga society as a whole.
Promising a sea of changes if the Congress came to power, he said the party was determined to oust the corrupt NPF government. “We have come to remove the thieves.”
The two Congress leaders also addressed another mammoth public rally at Mopang in Mon district today.