Naga Republic News
Someone once said that democracy is not possible, if we are not prepared to discuss, listen and hear the other side.
To give a platform for discussion and interaction ahead of the upcoming elections on February 27, the main political parties—the BJP, Congress, NDPP, NPF and NPP— were brought together in one platform as part of an open interaction under the theme ‘policy matters’. The interactive panel discussion was jointly organized by The Naga Republic, Heritage Publishing House and The Morung Express.
Titled ‘The Big Picture’, the aim was to help people get a better understanding of ‘Policy Matters’ at the state level. And with an important election coming the idea was to bring to the center stage the issues that matters for people.
The five representatives of political parties in the panel were General Secretary of the BJP, Nagaland unit, Jaansillung Gonmei; General Secretary of the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt. GK Zhimomi; NDPP’s Youth Wing President, Kelhuneizo Yhome; Spokesperson of the NPF, Achumbemo Kikon and Secretary (Organization) of the NPP, Samuel Sumi.
Editor of The Naga Republic, Along Longkumer in his opening remark while quoting the proverb ‘politics is the art of the possible’ went on to describe politics as the ‘best means’ available to bring the change we want. Given the scourge of corruption, misgovernance, abuse of power he pointed out that people in Nagaland had a very negative impression about politics.
On the contrary he said that politics was also about governance, the affairs of the state, citizen’s participation and their right to know. Setting in motion the discussion he went on to remark that public policy and public service is what lies at the core of politics. “Despite the pessimism that we see around us, I believe, we have all come here because we want to uplift the standard of our public discourse,” he said.
To begin with, the panelists were asked a set of specific queries prepared by the organisers.
The BJP’s Gonmei responding to a question concerning the popularity of Prime Minister Modi juxtaposed with apprehension surrounding the party’s alleged inclination to right-wing Hindutva forces said that the doubts are unwarranted. “BJP is really a secular party. Most of the people’s doubts are all unwarranted,” he said. According to him, the apprehensions are products of unsubstantiated claims, which are driven more by emotions than reasoning. He also blamed misleading reports on social media.
Congressman Capt. Zhimomi asked on the NPCC projecting a rather defeatist front instead of riding an audible anti-incumbency wave admitted the party is currently down “but we are not out.” According to him, things are already reversing (for the better) for the party and evolving. He also took pot-shot as regards veteran state politicians, who were formerly Congressmen “making a beeline for new parties.”
NPF Spokesperson Kikon was asked why the people should vote for the party. Kikon, while stating that the NPF be given another opportunity to serve added that it is the only party that values the sentiments of the Naga people. According to him, the NPF is the “overground face” of the Naga people – a party that focuses on empowering women and providing the youth with a brighter future.
In response to a similar query, the NPP’s Samuel Sumi said that in light of the current political scenario, the party is “here to give an alternative.” Sumi said that the NPP has no “political baggage” but would rely on the fact that it has a clean slate as far as its presence in Nagaland was concerned and its focus on uplift of tribal communities.
A new entrant but with old faces, the NDPP, according to Yhome, will bring change. He said that the party will deliver “in terms of transparency in governance.”
The audience, comprising mostly students and professionals, were only too eager to fire questions, which often had the panellists taking cover or sidestepping certain queries.
The Congress representative when asked what the party had done all the years that it was in power responded by pointing out that the present infrastructure seen today were all developed during the Congress regime and blamed regional parties for not doing anything substantial despite its decade long rule.
Also Captain Zhimomi questioned the ‘double-standard’ of the present government saying that if land acquisition in the state is such a big deal than how come Patanjali acquired so much of land for its project.
When the NPF representative and spokesperson, Achumbemo Kikon was asked by a student where all the money is going and why there was no development in the state, responded by arguing about the huge number of government employees and the money used to pay their salaries. He also said that government alone cannot be blamed for lack of development as public also plays a major part in it.
On the other hand, the NDPP Youth President, Kelhuneizo Yhome said that the present government lacked accountability and transparency and promised to bring about better governance and delivery.
Interestingly on clean elections, the political parties appeared to put the onus back on the public pointing out that if people do not seek money, jobs or other favours, the political parties would not indulge in the same.
Other points of interaction included educational reforms, streamlining bureaucracy, unemployment, industrial policy, women empowerment, violence against women and Framework Agreement.
“People didn’t want the interaction to end. There were a whole lot of questions still to be asked. Those who came were somewhat disappointed because of the limited time”, said one of the organizers. A representative of The Naga Republic explained that since this was an event related to elections, they had to follow the guidelines of the Election Commission of India, and therefore the time for more question and interaction could not be extended.
With inputs from The Morung Express and Nagaland Page