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A lonely optimist

Pfutsero, Feb. 22: Former Nagaland Speaker Thenucho may be leading a one-man army but that doesn’t deter him from being optimistic about the future.

Once a prominent NPF leader and a blue-eyed boy of chief minister Neiphiu Rio, Thenucho has now been isolated by his party and had to revive the almost-defunct United Naga Democratic Party (UNDP) formed by T.A. Ngullie, who is now contesting on BJP ticket from Tyui constituency in Wokha district.

Thenucho, however, failed to garner support and is the party’s only candidate this election. He is contesting from Pfutsero constituency in Phek district.

A resident of Kikruma, the biggest village in the constituency, he is pitted against former finance minister and Congress candidate K. Therie and NPF legislator Naiba Kronu. He is, however, hopeful of winning the election, claiming that the people are with him.

Thenucho was first elected to the Nagaland Assembly in 1982 on a Naga National Democratic Party (NNDP) ticket from Pfutsero constituency.

Born on October 2, 1952, the former Speaker was an active student leader and had received the “best orator” award from Chakhesang Students’ Union. He was a founder member of Nature Save Board, Nagaland, (1982); Pfutsero College and Pfutsero Theological College; Naga Women Leprosy Society and Tea Planters’ Association; and a member of the Tea Board of India and several other organisations.

Contesting from the land of vegetables and the coldest place (at 2,133.6 metres) in the state, Thenucho said he has a vision for developing the constituency, which has 21,937 voters — 10,653 men and 11,279 women. He also said his party was committed to safeguarding and preserving the indigenous customary rights and practices, traditions and culture of Nagas and promised to work for the security, prosperity and integration of Nagas through transparent and efficient governance.

Thenucho said though he is a lone contender, he would continue to extend support to the Centre for early settlement of the Naga political problem and Naga NGOs in the peace process.

Citing reasons for quitting the NPF, the former home minister accused chief minister Neiphiu Rio of deviating from the principles founded by pioneers of the regional party. He said as a loyal party man, he had met top NPF leaders, including president Shurhozelie Liezietsu, to uphold the torch of regionalism but his voice went unheeded.

He also accused Rio of corruption and bad governance, which had created haves and have-nots in society.

Thenucho said though he had parted ways with the NPF, he would continue to uphold the principles of regionalism through the UNDP.

He had severed ties with Rio after the 2008 election, when he, the then home minister, lost to first timer Chotisuh Sazo from Chozuba constituency.

He also had two providential escapes. Once in 1991 when rebels ambushed his convoy near Lahorijan in Assam on August 14, while he was on his way to Mon to unfurl the Tricolour on Independence Day. At least eight Naga policemen were killed and several injured.

The other was on August 29, 1998, when Manipur commandos fired indiscriminately on his vehicle in Imphal while he was on his way to Delhi. His two bodyguards were killed and he sustained bullet injuries.