Kohima, Feb. 17: Baptist clergyman Huzo Meru has embarked on the political mission to cleanse the Naga society of corruption, beginning with the election.
Meru, who has jumped into the fray as an Independent from 8 Western Angami Assembly constituency, has as his opponents Naga People’s Front (NPF) candidate Speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie and Congress candidate Asu Keyho.
The clergyman says he has accepted the challenge for the sake of the people, to change the current corrupt electoral politics, which has contaminated society.
He says the word “corruption” does not shock Naga society anymore and urges the people to change the way things are. “You have the power to change it. You can change the way you vote and I am asking the chance to prove it to you that corruption can be defeated. I hope you can feel the urgency I have in my heart for our people. Let me honestly proclaim that opportunity is knocking at our door,” he says, appealing for votes. Change will not come overnight but initiatives have to begin, he adds.
A member of the “clean election campaign” of the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC), Meru claims that corruption begins with election and the efforts of the Baptist church to clean the mess have had a great impact.
He is optimistic about defeating money power with people’s support. “I am entering politics without money. I want to set the trend that good and young people who do not have money can also enter the poll fray.” He says people of his constituency do not want money to vote for him, unlike two-time Speaker Kiyanilie.
He says people know how Naga politicians at the helm of affairs accumulate wealth at their cost. “They are building palaces with public money. They have created the haves and the have-nots.”
Meru alleges that there is no sustainable economic policy in his constituency — the poor people have become poorer and the rich have become richer. “We should do full justice to the people. I will totally sacrifice for the western Angami constituency with transparency and accountability,” he promises.
Disagreeing with the notion that church leaders should not enter politics, he says they “should enter politics and light the candle. It is high time they got involved in politics.” He says politics is not dirty but a sacred and divine institution which people pollute.
On reports that he has the blessings of chief minister Neiphiu Rio, he candidly says, “We are from the same church. But as a chief minister, he should bless everyone.”
“I am privileged to announce that I have been approached by several wise and trustworthy people to enter the political fray,” he adds.
Meru says leaders elected by the people should be honest and have the integrity and ability to lead the people and the government in the right direction. “I sense an awa-kening in the people that the way politics has been played in Nagaland is not producing good fruits.”
The clergyman promises to bring positive changes in the constituency, which has 16,236 voters and 25 polling stations. “As a community leader in different capacities from years of experience, I can spot the difference between those who perform and those who only make empty promises,” he says.
Huzo, who was born on July 12, 1953, hails from Khonoma, 10km from the Speaker’s village of Jotsoma. He has been in the church ministry for 30 years and is still active in several church organisations like Convener Steering Committee and Northeast Christian University. He is a trustee in the South Asia Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, the president of Kohima Field Baptist Fellowship and the chairman of NBCC peace committee. He recently resigned as the president of Shalom Bible Seminary, Sechu-Zubza.