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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 75

Medical Tourism

By R.K. Bhatnagar - Syndicate Features

The demise of the Niephiu Rio-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) Government can be said to have begun when he executed the downsizing of his Cabinet in August-September last. It alienated the Janata Dal (U) and the Independent members comprising the five party alliance, who charged Rio of step-motherly treatment and withdrew their support a month later in October. It has proved the point that in a coalition downsizing is fraught with danger. This is the experience of Meghalaya politicos too.

The contours of eventual break-up of the DAN coalition became apparent when the two members of the Janata Dal (U) Deo Nukhu and Huska Sumi made it known that they would withdraw support to the Niephiu Rio government after they were dropped from the Cabinet. Yet the rot was mainly within the main constituent of the DAN coalition the Nagaland People’s Front (NPF) five of whose members –K. Therie, Z. Obed, Yeangphong Konyak, Vatsu Maru and Khutovi resigned from the party amidst allegations against Chief Minister Rio. They then demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry against the Chief Minister. That was in the third week of September. The allegations carried conviction because Therie was the Finance Minister in the Rio Cabinet.

Matters were on the boil till mid-December when the Congress-led Opposition tabled a no-confidence motion against the DAN Government. Speaker Kiyanielie Peseyie’s letter to the Opposition parties that the three Independent members –Khutovi Sema, Jongsilemba Ao and P. Chuba Chang – could not cast their vote on the issue because the Tenth Schedule barred Independent members from taking part in party politics. The letter was cause celebre from the moment the House assembled for the day with the Congress strongly objecting to the disbarment of the three Independents.

However, worse was to follow. Put to vote the results produced a real scare for the DAN Government when, instead of the five known dissidents from the Nagaland People’s Front, four others joined the ranks of the disaffected and voted for the no-confidence motion. The DAN Government was reduced to minority. Speaker Kiyanielie Peseyie’s ruled disqualifying the nine dissidents on the ground that the Constitution prohibits floor-crossing. Those disqualified were Kihoto Hollohon, Kheto Sema, Tokheho Yepthomi, Talinungsang Ao,Tarie Zeliang, Hewoto Awomi, Kapili Sangtam,Nikao Lotha and Hukavi Sema.

The three Independents showed their hand prematurely when they co-sponsored the no-confidence motion along with 17-strong Congress group and the rebels from the Nagaland People’s Front. The Speaker’s action of banning the three Independents from voting and disqualifying the NPF rebels was, thus, a pre-emptive strike that only served to precipitate the dismissal of the DAN government.

As a consequence Nagaland is destined to hold elections in the third week of February. The Delimitation Commission of India has stated that it will complete its work in the north-east within two months. A final blueprint was delayed because of the several stays obtained by political parties from courts and it is not unlikely that the document pertaining to Nagaland will be hotly contested by those who are demanding Greater Nagalim comprising bits of Naga-inhabited territory adjoining Nagaland in Manipur.

The DAN government was a votary of Greater Nagalim and this factor put it squarely in the camp of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim of the Isak Swu - Muivah faction. It is in this context that the threat held out by the DAN government that the dismissal and imposition of President’s Rule (which it insists on describing as imposition of Martial Law) would cause a disruption of the peace process underway with the Government of India.

A ceasefire has held for the better part of a decade albeit unsatisfactory in several respects. The ground rules stipulated that the approximately 6000 strong NSCN armed cadres would have to report to designated camps and deposit their weapons in armouries. Of these, a mere fraction of about 1000 fighters have arrived at the designated camps and the rest are still running extortion rackets and wielding political power at gun point.

The NSCN ((I-M) has tremendous nuisance value both inside Nagaland, the surrounding States, and as far afield as Myanmar and Bangladeh in the east and Nepal where it has been training the Maoists in guerrilla tactics and heavy calibre weapons thereby emboldening some elements of its youth wing to make inroads into India to try and foment trouble. The security forces have long warned that it is using the ceasefire to strengthen its position.

If the DAN coalition ( now of the Nagaland People’s Front and the four members of the Bharatiya Janata Party), has been suggesting that the imposition of President’s Rule could affect the peace process it could mean that the NSCN (I-M) is preparing to flex its muscles. It remains to be seen how far the BJP would go along with that kind of a game plan of the NPF. Whatever gains the NSCN has made in terms of influence could evaporate given that both Myanmar and Bangladesh have shown signs of cooperating with India in its counter-insurgency operations.

Meanwhile, Niephiu Rio has some things to worry about. Persistent allegations of corruption and nepotism have dogged him since the time he affected his down-sizing. One pertains to a land scam and demands for a CBI enquiry have been made to the Governor. The other, curiously, pertains to the period immediately after the Speaker’s ruling that saved the DAN government and the interregnum between that event and the imposition of President’s Rule. The allegation is that the Rio Government withdrew Rs 130 crore from the exchequer for food grains for the public distribution system over the short space of time between the 13 December no-confidence motion and New Year’s Eve. These are going to haunt the DAN coalition till Election Day.

- Syndicate Features -

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