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Nagaland MP’s bill rejected in House

New Delhi, July 25: Rajya Sabha MP from Nagaland Khekiho Zhimomi today tried to draw the attention of the House to a bill introduced by him earlier, saying that every law to be passed by Parliament should be first ratified by the state Assembly.

The result was not unexpected as the private member’s bill was withdrawn. There were no other speakers but for the reply from minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju.

The Acts of Parliament (Application to Nagaland) Bill, 2010 had sought to provide for procedure “for effectuating Article 371A (1) (a) of the Constitution” in relation to Nagaland. Article 371A of the Constitution grants special status to Nagaland to protect its customary laws, traditions and grants it rights on ownership of land. Here is where the state government differs with the Centre on oil exploration. Nagaland has contended that it has the liberty under Article 371A to carry out oil exploration on its own.

Rijiju said the member’s suggestions were “sweeping and drastic” and could not be implemented but said the government was “sympathetic” towards the Nagas’ demands and negotiations were under way with a rebel outfit. The sanctity of the Constitution had to be maintained, he said.

In the process of discussing his proposal, Zhimomi raised concerns that offered a peep not only into the political establishment but also the rebels’ agenda. The language in his speech was predictable for those watching the rebels’ indefatigable fight for “shared sovereignty”.

Zhimomi said the Centre should bring forth a bill to create an Upper House in the state legislature to meet the “democratic aspirations of the people”. This, he said, would strengthen the climate of confidence in the context of the ongoing peace talks (with NSCN (Isak-Muivah)).

“When different arrangements come by after the peace talks, and if any modification needs to be made in the existing constitutional and political arrangements, it can be made without constraints,” Zhimomi said.

The NSCN (I-M) has demanded a “special federal relationship” between “Nagaland and India”, a whiff one could feel in the demands of the Naga People’s Front MP’s submission in the Upper House today. Sources said the rebels have also demanded a tribal hoho as a second tier in the existing parliamentary set-up.

Zhimomi also demanded that a joint committee of the Union and state governments be set up to “constantly filter parliamentary laws from application to Nagaland in line with letter and spirit of Article 371A of the Constitution”.

Zhimomi said the article was the “backbone” and Nagaland could not have come into being without it. He also criticised the government for stretching the ceasefire talks with the NSCN (I-M).