Opposition-less Government in Nagaland: Favorable or Dangerous?

Editorial, This Politics
Editorial, This Politics

Cover politics, government, and social issues in Northeast India

while 7-decades long Naga political issue is important and worth pursuing with everything to pay attention to, one is not sure how setting up of opposition-less government will help the process in anyway. Only time will tell us how favorable this undemocratic action is for the Naga political solution in the long run.

Currently, Nagaland Assembly has no party desirous of playing the role of opposition. The Naga People’s Front (NPF) acted as the only opposition party in the state since 2018. However, the NPF has recently joined the ruling government alliance – People Democratic Alliance (PDA) – comprised of the National Democratic People’s Party, Bharatiya Janata Party and two independent legislators. With the joining of the NPF in the ruling, vacating their vowed seats of the opposition, the nomenclature of the ruling alliance has changed for second time from Nagaland United Government (NUG) to United Democratic Alliance (UDA) as it was felt among themselves that the first name sounds inappropriate. The small state of Nagaland is literally left with no opposition voice, meaning there is no elected representative who will check and balance the political decision and action of the ruling government.

It makes one think then how the voters of Nagaland stay silent and satisfied with the way the politicians have designed people’s government into an oligarchy-like government? Theoretically, a democratic government without opposition is nothing but system of oligarchy; government by group of people. When there is opposition party in democracy, it makes the government a government of the people, for the people and by the people. The very reason why people are not making any noise against such step is because the legislators have stated the objective and need of having a united government very clearly, also may be convincingly – whether it is the truth or not, only they and God know. The legislators claimed that it is too crucial to come together as one in order to push for speedy resolution of the Naga political issue. While the 7-decades long Naga political issue is important and worth pursuing with everything to pay attention to, one is not sure how setting up of opposition-less government will help the process in anyway. Only time will tell us how favorable this action is for the Naga political solution in the long run.

In our politico-government setup, opposition plays the most crucial role in keeping our democracy relevant and work for every citizen. Some of the fundamental roles of opposition party are:
1) To check the government from becoming authoritarian and to restrict its powers, the opposition parties keep a watch over them.
(2) The main duty of the opposition party is to criticize the policies of the government.
(3) Outside the legislature the opposition parties attract the attention of the press and report their criticism of the government policy in the news papers.
(4)  The opposition parties have the right to check the expenditure of the government also.
(5) During the question hour, the opposition parties criticize the government generally.

All the significant functions of oppostion party mentioned above will be utterly disappeared in the Nagaland state without opposition party. In the end, it will be loss for the people of Nagaland state.

This action has drawn several criticisms mainly from unpresented political party and some civil society groups. James Sangma, President of NPP, while visiting Nagaland had stated that an opposition-less goverment is not only unhealthy but a dangerous trend. The Naga Rising, an intellectual group in Nagaland, has also heavily criticized upon the formation of opposition-less government saying that governance and constitutional obligation of an elected government has nothing to do with the ongoing peace talks between Government of India and Naga political groups (NPGs) or the question of unity among NPGs.

The most important analysis from this issue lies on how the united government can help better than the un-united democratic government in facilitating the Indo-Naga political talk. Does it mean that GoI wil not pay serious attention as long as opposition party exists in Nagaland? Or does it mean that the Naga nationalists groups will feel obligated to unite among themselves across different factions when they see the opposition party totally merge with the ruling government? After giving careful consideration, it is highly skeptical there really is a need for united government to facilitate the Naga political talk process because there is no evidence or indicator found it may.

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