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As the Indian National Congress, under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, prepares for its second ‘Yatra’ from Manipur to Maharashtra starting January 14, 2023, the Nagaland Congress is gearing up to host the Congress leader in five districts: Kohima, Tseminyu, Wokha, Zunheboto, and Mokokchung.

 

Mathew Anthony, National Spokesperson and National Media Coordinator for Northeast India, released the ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ booklet at Congress Bhavan, Kohima, today, where they alleged a decade of injustice under BJP rule in the nation.

“Leader Rahul Gandhi is spearheading this walk to raise awareness about the injustices meted out to the people. What do we offer in return? We offer the people a country of hope,” stated Mathew, urging all people from Nagaland from various walks of life to participate in the Yatra.

According to NPCC President Supongmeren Jamir, it was Rahul Gandhi himself who suggested taking this stretch of road for his Yatra as it represents the longest stretch in Nagaland to reach Assam. The Yatra, as explained by Jamir to Mokokchung Times, is expected to commence on January 15 from Khuzama, Kohima making a stop in Wokha district, with Gandhi potentially considering a 1km walk from Imkongmeren Sports Complex, Mokokchung to Mokokchung’s Town Square on January 17.

Amidst all these plans, the Congress faces a significant challenge in Nagaland’s political landscape, dominated by power dynamics, tribal politics, and village politics. However, AICC Secretary in-charge of Nagaland, Ranajit Mukherjee, believes that Nagaland is more “politically aware” than anticipated.

Mukherjee acknowledged the harsh reality of electoral politics revolving around money and power but emphasized that Nagas understand the ideology of different political parties. He considers the Yatra a “universal” movement, asserting that “justice is universal.”

“Of course, we are not expecting lakhs and lakhs of people like in the mainland states because it is not in the culture of Nagaland. But we do not wish to confuse ourselves with electoral politics,” Mukherjee told Mokokchung Times regarding the expected number of people turning up during the Yatra. Mukherjee also agreed that the Congress wants the problems of Nagaland to be highlighted to the nation through this Yatra, and it is what the people of Nagaland want too.

On being asked what steps the Congress has taken to ensure that grassroots people have been reached out to, Mukherjee said that the response of the people is “still under process,” but so far, they have not met any obstacles with any of the villages they have reached out to.

Regarding whether the significant challenge lies in the claim that Rahul Gandhi is on the Yatra to “listen to the people” and whether there is a doubt on whether people of Nagaland will walk up and interact their grievances with Gandhi, Mukherjee believes that everybody has their own way of expressing grievances, emphasizing the diverse ways Nagas might choose to communicate with Gandhi.

Supongmeren Jamir anticipates that “Church leaders” will be most concerned with the RSS-BJP agendas. He expressed disappointment over the transformation of Christmas Day into “Good Governance Day” and the BJP’s attempts to remove ‘Socialism and Secularism’ from the preamble, particularly worrying for Christians.

“We have no problem with the regional party. It is up to the people. But first and foremost, BJP must be rooted out from the state. But the fact that regional parties are aligning with the RSS-BJP is what is concerning and disappointing,” said Jamir.

Apart from these challenges, the Congress faces a formidable challenge in the form of the Modi wave. Modi’s popularity and association with the “Act East Policy” have gained widespread support across the Northeast and Modi has arguably been positioned as the most popular PM of the country.

When asked how the Congress plans to counter this narrative, Mukherjee emphasized the importance of “looking beyond packaging and focusing on substance.” He offered a critical perspective on the BJP, stating, “What you see with the BJP is merely the packaging. For example, concerns arise about hosting 100 people entering Nagaland because of insufficient infrastructure. This isn’t a challenge faced anywhere else in the country but Nagaland. Consider the Hornbill Festival, where issues related to homestays being more expensive than hotels in Kohima come to light.”

He cited the party’s history in solving regional issues during their governance in the Northeast, emphasizing their commitment to delivering on promises.

“When there were Congress governments in the Northeast, we solved the Assam Accord; we chose the peace of the people over power. The Mizo Accord, the Naga talks also started when Rajiv Gandhi came here and spoke about it, but he was assassinated. And later on, PV Narasimha Rao’s time, his talks went without precondition, which is what led to a ceasefire, and that is why we have existing peace in Nagaland today. This region, which was full of tribal insurgency, had turned into a peaceful region. It has settled its borders with Burma and Bangladesh. Today, our borders are disturbed; insurgencies are rising across all Northeastern States. Today, I’ll have to change to a driver from a different community when we drive from Kohima to Imphal. Today, ULFA is raising its head again… just a few years back, all of these were solved. Today, with Burma, our border is unsettled; we have refugees coming in while the Mizo government refuses to listen to the government; then we have the Free Movement Regime being stopped…all of these are happening under Modi.”

The AICC secretary highlighted the fundamental difference between the Congress and BJP, asserting: “Unlike the BJP, Congress never promises anything that cannot be delivered.”

National Spokesperson Mathew further emphasized that it is a “complete people’s movement” and encouraged the public to participate and express support by giving a missed call on 9891802024.

Mokokchung Times

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