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Nagaland Crisis: Three Elections Later, Can BJP Stand True To Its Peace Promise?

The ‘Framework Agreement’ was signed on 3 August 2015 between the GOI & National Socialist Council to end insurgency

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The elections in Nagaland have barely been conducted without the mention of the Naga political issue spanning over several decades and is yet to see an amicable settlement. This has remained at the crux of every political party's manifesto and 2023 has been no different.

This is the third state assembly election since the ‘Framework Agreement’ that was signed on 3 August 2015 between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) to end insurgency in the state.

Due to this, the state had also earned the distinction of having an Opposition-less government. The only Opposition party—The NPF was inducted into the government with the vision to work collectively towards achieving a peaceful solution.

Prior to the elections, the Secretary General of The Naga People’s Front (NPF), the first regional political party in the state Achumbemo Kikon had confirmed the same. Yet another election has passed and the protracted Naga issue remains unresolved.

Snapshot
  • The Naga political issue spanning over several decades and is yet to see an amicable settlement.

  • Nagaland had also earned the distinction of having an Opposition-less government.

  • ‘Framework Agreement’ was signed on 3 August 2015 between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) to end insurgency.

  • In the recent past, many individuals and civil organisations in the state have also expressed concern over how deeply divided the Naga society is becoming or has become.

  • But on the bright side of the verdict of the Nagaland Elections 2023, Nagaland has scripted history by electing its first women representatives.

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Nagaland Gets New Govt but Can It Solve the Age-Old Political Conflict?

As expected, the NDPP-BJP has once again won a majority and is well on its way to forming the new government. However, it seems apparent that the people of Nagaland have nothing new to look forward to even with the formation of a new government.

Even before the polling day, there was hardly anyone who exuded hope that this election would bring ‘change’ for the better.

A veteran journalist Kopelo Krome who has seen decades of the Indo-Naga conflict unfold and also wrote in his book titled Beloved

“…written mostly with thoughts of the Nagas, who had endured and experienced unaccountable sufferings and incidences during the last many unforgiveable and unforgettable decades, because of the evil forces against the peace and freedom loving Nagas. Also written in protests against the so-called Nagas, who are indifferent to the call for, a changing Nagaland to a better land, but falling into the traps of easy living being nonchalant with love for their very own self and blind in their greed to see the sufferings of their own blood flowing deep into the earth. Written also with thoughts of my friends, even Indian friends for having the feeling of humanity but are helpless. And also written for all those I love and have loved and those, whom I would dearly like to love. This book is written for them." —is barely optimistic that there will be any change or progress as far as the Naga political issue is concerned, also indicating that it may be in the same boat, the same trend and that, solution is always secondary for them (state government).

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To further quote a former Journalist & Author from Kohima Charles Chasie: “As far as I am concerned, I don’t care whether I live in India or outside India but let me live as a Naga. The way I want to live my life.”

In the recent past, many individuals and civil organisations in the state have also expressed concern over how deeply divided the Naga society is becoming or has become.

This is perhaps one of the factors that also explains why the Naga political issue has not seen a permanent settlement. As Charles Chasie puts it, “I don’t see much hope. The sad part is our own disunity. The way things are going, probably things will get worse before it gets better.”

Nagaland Scripts History by Electing Its First-Ever Women Representatives to the NLA

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But on the bright side of the verdict of the Nagaland Elections 2023, Nagaland has scripted history by electing its first women representatives— Hekani Jakhalu and Salhoutuonuo Kruse to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA). They both contested with a ruling NDPP (Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) ticket from Dimapur III Assembly Constituency and 8 Western Angami Assembly Constituency respectively.

This is truly historic considering the stark reality that Nagaland has never had a single woman representative in the state assembly since the first general elections in the year 1964.

For long, if Naga women were inducted into some civil society organisation, it was only for them “to serve” either tea or food during meetings. They were rarely part of the decision-making body and the Naga society, in general, is still yet to completely break free from this mindset.
https://www.thequint.com/news/india/nagaland-assembly-elections-first-women-mlas-in-60-years-hekani-jakhalu-salhoutuonuo-kruse
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As for women's participation in the state general elections, there have been women candidates in the past elections who made unsuccessful forays into state politics. In the last general elections, there were a total of five candidates which was also the highest number of women in the history of Nagaland state polls. Unfortunately, none of them made it.

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Then, I remember writing about getting used to the idea of women candidates and truly hoping that at least one of them would make the cut. Who knew five years down the line, this dream would become a reality? And I salute the courage they have displayed and for choosing to break strong barriers that wall the gender fabric of the Naga society. Despite lots of difficulties and challenges, they have come a long way!

Then, I had also hoped that someday, we would break free from all the shackles and unhealthy perceptions of having a woman MLA, and that, we would also see days when a sitting woman MLA does not sound strange on our tongues. That, there would be equal representation of men and women in the Nagaland Legislative Assembly.

And now that Nagaland has made history by electing not one but two women representatives, perhaps, all hope is not lost. And even if it does not sound too exciting for the greater population of Nagaland, for me, this is something I look forward to. May their tribe increase!

(Vishü Rita Krocha is a Kohima-based Naga journalist. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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