Paving way for others

On January 5, the first Sunday of this year, among many other news that appeared in the local dailies, one which caught the attention of the readers was the report about Chief Secretary, Alemtemshi Jamir contesting the State’s lone Lok Sabha seat in the coming months. It was felt that the report perhaps sought to test the reaction of the people about the Chief Secretary’s political ambitions. The same day the Naga People’s Front (NPF) had reportedly asked the Chief Secretary to issue clarification as it was reported that he would be contesting on NPF ticket. While Alemtemshi clarified that the report was published without proper authentication, he admitted that he was contemplating premature retirement in order to pave way for other Naga officers who would retire before him, to enable them to occupy the same chair. This is a very welcome gesture and deserves appreciation if there are no political ambitions as reported but clarified. The Chief Secretary retires in January 2015. If he is to retire prematurely before the Lok Sabha polls, the first officer to benefit and occupy the same chair would be Additional Chief Secretary and Commissioner Nagaland, Banuo Z. Jamir who is none other than his wife. Banuo retires in September 2014 and would enjoy the position for sometime depending upon when the incumbent officer resigns. She would then become the first female, in the state if not in northeast, to occupy the position of Chief Secretary. After her retirement in September, the next in line is Additional Chief Secretary and Finance Commissioner, Toshi Aier who retires in December 2014 and would become Chief Secretary for three months from October till December. The third person would be Additional Chief Secretary in-charge of Law & Justice and Personnel & Administrative Reforms, C.J. Ponraj who would get only two months to be Chief Secretary as he retires in February 2015. However, if the incumbent Chief Secretary serves his full term till January 2015, then none of the aforementioned officers, except C.J. Ponraj, can occupy the highest bureaucratic chair as they would be retiring before him. In such case, Ponraj would be getting only one month to enjoy the position. As a matter of fact, the list of probable incumbencies depends on whether the Centre extends the term of any of the Chief Secretaries. Normally, the centre extends the tenure of Chief Secretary for two years. Therefore, in the light of the fact that two other Naga officers would be able to become Chief Secretaries in the event of his retirement before Lok Sabha polls, the incumbent Chief Secretary’s ‘contemplation’ and concern for other officers deserve wide applause. Only Alemtemshi himself can prove and show his already expressed concern for other Naga officers. Nevertheless, having talked about paving way for others and feeling it “befitting that the tenure be shared” among officers, it does not mean the Chief Secretary has denied or discarded political ambitions. In fact, retiring prematurely could serve two purposes – paving pay for other officers; and venturing into political arena. Two birds would be killed with a stone – premature retirement. As for the twin issue of Karbi-Rengma and Sumi-NSCN (IM) conflicts, people are questioning as to why the State government has not announced ex-gratia for the victims of Rengmas and Sumis killed while for the Karbis it was immediately announced. Some sections of the people also have long been discussing on a popular social networking site as to why the State Chief Minister remained silent on the Sumi-NSCN (IM) issue leaving only to the Home Minister to haplessly tackle the public uprising but vehemently spoke out over Karbi killing. If the head of the government can intervene in the killing of outsider Karbis, then the killings of own Nagas - Rengmas and Sumis needed more sincere intervention and not to be relegated to subordinates. People are studying.
The writer has earlier run a weekly column for Nagaland Post titled, “Week in Review” featuring every Sunday. On similar lines, he will be writing from time to time for The Morung Express with a new title, “News Review.” This column will be a monthly feature.