In a now famous quote, President Abraham Lincoln was said to have commented to a visitor to the White House in 1865: “If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Unfortunately, Lincoln’s sage advice is too often ignored in present day politics even here in Nagaland. If it had not been for the Guwahati High Court, Kohima Bench intervening or the local media giving platform to the issue, the whims and fancies of politicians and bureaucrats in the now infamous JEE debacle would have gone unnoticed and undefeated. In that case Thomas Jefferson’s prudent proverb about democracy would have continued to remain a myth for the masses.
As in the case of the aggrieved candidate Niuto S Chishi, it also proves that for the successful running of democracy, a well informed and vigilant public, an independent judiciary acting as a check on unlawful executive action and a dispassionate media fulfilling it duty, is of vital importance if justice is to be ensured. Therefore much credit goes to the three watch dog body for demonstrating that true democracy can indeed remain functional even in Nagaland if there is the courage of conviction to pursue truth and justice.
Coming back to the demand of the various students groups calling for the dropping of Imkong Imchen from the Neiphiu Rio Cabinet, now with the apex students body, the Naga Students Federation (NSF) likewise calling for a review of tenure of the Minister on moral grounds and misuse of power and setting an ultimatum of August 25 for the government to respond, Rio now has his hands full. The stoned silence of the government on the nepotism deal and failure to issue any public clarification till date gives the impression that the State Cabinet does not have the moral strength to come clean on the issue. It also raises suspicion about a deeper nexus and therefore, it is highly unlikely that the demand for Imchen’s removal from the Cabinet will be realized. And unless the students union and the government are prepared to have a long drawn battle, it would be advisable for both to seek a realistic solution to end the crisis.
Since the major demand of nullifying the illegal appointment to the two MBBS seat has now been fulfilled, it would be better if the students climb down from its original demand (of seeking Imchen’s ouster). Rather, how to restore public faith in the concerned department—important as it is for future recruitment of students for higher studies and courses—is therefore an immediate task of the government. Therefore the Chief Minister on his part, with whatever little choice he has, should now do the right thing by shifting the Minister from the Information Technology & Technical Education (IT & TE) Department without having to drop him. The Principal Secretary as administrative head of IT & TE should also be reprimanded and transferred out of his current posting. This is the least that the DAN government can now do if it wants to salvage some pride in the eyes of the public.