Congress targets Nagaland with eye on the past

Read more below

By SAMIR K. PURKAYASTHA in Guwahati
  • Published 3.01.08
  •  

Guwahati, Jan. 3: When New Delhi sneezes, Kohima freezes, goes a joke in Nagaland.

The sublime political message in it is, however, not lost in the banter. The powers that be in New Delhi — more precisely the Congress — has time and again scuttled elected governments in the state by imposing President’s rule.

Call it a quirk of fate or political manoeuvring, the Congress, except once after the Emergency, managed to win the popular mandate after central rule despite public outcry.

The 16th state of the Indian Union was put under President’s rule for the first time when Emergency was clamped in the country. The United Democratic Front (UDF) government under Vizol came to power after Emergency was lifted. S.C. Jamir switched over to the UDF from the Congress and became the deputy chief minister.

The state was under a brief spell of central rule again in 1987 after the Hokishe Sema-led Congress government was reduced to a minority.

In the 1988 Assembly elections held after President’s rule, the Congress came back to power with Jamir as chief minister.

The last time President’s rule was imposed was in 1992 when the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government at the Centre dismissed the Nagaland People’s Council government led by Vamuzo Phesao.

The Congress managed to return to power after the central rule in 1993 with Jamir again becoming the chief minister.

The Nagaland PCC is once again hoping that history will repeat itself even as the Nagaland People’s Front (NPF) and the BJP are deciding to make the central rule a major poll plank.

The NPF, the main constituent of the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland, has termed President’s rule as “army rule” and said the Nagas would suffer under it.

The NPF said it was a desperate ploy of the Congress-led government at the Centre to capture power in Nagaland through rigging and misuse of the state machinery after consecutive defeats in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections.

According to political observers, it is too early to predict that the move could be counter-productive, more so going by the past record of the Congress.

Instead, they said the return of Jamir, who is now Goa Governor, to state politics has become more imminent.

The abrupt imposition of central rule in the state just a few weeks before Assembly elections reflects the growing desperation in the Congress camp to grab power.

Elections to the Nagaland Assembly are due next month. “Going by the desperation in the Congress fold, it is unlikely that the party will take the risk of going to the polls keeping the astute Jamir out of the frame,” said a political observer in Kohima.