Law of Politics

Last week’s political development—the resignation of four NPF MLAs Z. Obed, K. Therie, Vatsu Meru and Yeangphong first from the Nagaland Legislative Assembly and later from the party was on expected lines. Even the timing of their exit from the Legislature and party was well crafted to avoid any pitfall arising out of the new Anti-Defection Law, which is now in place since December 2003. It is obvious that dissension was brewing within the NPF for quite sometime following the downsizing exercise—direct fallout of the new Anti-Defection Law, Therie’s stand on the question of one man one post within the NPF and other issues related to the peace process, law and order etc. In the past, such politicking could have meant trouble for the government’s stability. In the context of the State, clearly the new Anti-Defection Law has come as a blessing in disguise for the present DAN government headed by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio not withstanding the rough political weather created by the ‘downsizing’ clause on limiting the size of ministries, which to the credit of Rio, he was able to overcome. 

Unfortunately for the Congress, the new law came a bit late and the defection of seven party MLAs to the NPF in early 2003 could not be avoided and turned out to be a major boost for the Chief Minister and in the process for the stability of the DAN regime. After all it has to be mentioned that the Congress did emerge as the single largest party during the last Assembly election. In the overall context, the State has experienced political stability thanks to this new law which is seen as a major step to curb bulk political defections and more significantly, to bar defectors from holding any public office. The provision that a legislator, who gets elected on a party symbol or as an Independent, cannot shift sides without paying a price, either by being denied Ministership or by losing the seat, is therefore welcome. Even in the near future looking ahead to the post-election (2008) scenario, the new law should stand in good stead and will apply equally to everyone. 

Coming back to last week’s resignation, a senior Minister took a potshot at the four NPF MLAs by stating that the four who quit the party had “betrayed the electorate and have no moral right to contest in the election again”. Coming as it did from a senior politician like Thenucho, it was equally surprising as it was politically unwise. After all if the Home Minister takes such a moral stand, what does he have to say about the seven former Congress MLAs who defected to the NPF and in the process, so to say ‘betrayed’ the electorate similarly? Can Thenucho publicly condemn them (two of whom are Members of Parliament) and do they also have the moral right to contest in the coming election? But leaving aside the political immorality of the past, at least now under the new Anti-Defection Law, Nagaland can likewise hope to see an end to the ‘Aya Ram Gaya Ram’ culture of floor crossings. Against this backdrop, the timing of the resignation of the four NPF MLAs rather than being ridiculed should be welcomed. It will be only fair to add here that having being elected on NPF party tickets they did the right thing by resigning from their assembly seats and they have every right to go back to the people with their issues. At the end of the day, whether it is Therie and his colleagues or Thenucho, their political destiny will be decided at the hustings. This is the first law of politics and no one can escape from it.