Nagaland polls Pughoboto seat row unfair to legacy of Isak Chishi Swu

[**EDS: IMAGE VIA PRO (DEFENCE)** New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh felicitates an awardee of ?Veer Gatha 2.0? contest at an event, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Union MoS for Defence Ajay Bhatt, Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari are also seen. ( /PTI] Nirendra Dev New Delhi, Jan 25 : Life is most of the time a bitter experience. Even legends are not spared. With some of course, the 'bitterness' could haunt even in the grave, and ironically for no fault of that man. The Pughoboto assembly seat controversy in Nagaland between the NDPP and the BJP is such a case and if anyone's reputation is 'hurt', it is the Late Isak Chishi Swu, the former Chairman of NSCN-IM. Isak Swu's kin Y Vikheho Swu is now a sitting legislator and Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio is keen to accommodate him, although in 2018, the seat had gone to the BJP quota. The NSCN-IM has issued a denial of any "interference" from its side on the matter after the row was kicked off over purported "threats" to an aide of Chief Minister Rio so that Isak Swu's kin Vikheho Swu should be accommodated as NDPP nominee from the constituency. The much-trusted aide of Chief Minister Rio -- Abu Metha - also Secretary General of NDPP - allegedly made the remarks on January 19 meeting and of course, appreciating the urgency and gravity of the situation Rio himself signed the denial letter. Nevertheless the damage was done! Damage is done to the reputation of a deceased person -- who probably never himself showed much interest in the Nagaland assembly polls at least prior to the 1997 ceasefire. The NSCN-IM has also issued a denial stating, as an organisation, it cannot stoop so low. Nagaland watchers will agree that left to him Late Isak Swu would say, it is by the "guidance of Holy Spirit that have seen me through this far", courtesy his Facebook post in 2016 when he expired. Security apparatus in Nagaland and northeast knew that between Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah, the latter was the real "rebel leader". Swu had a much pleasant and agreeable personality and was well focused with his knowledge on the cherished goals of Christianity and the teachings of Bible. Even the Late Rajesh Pilot, as Internal Security Minister in the P. V. Narasimha Rao government, had said that working out any peace initiative would have been much easier with Isak Swu than Muivah. Pilot had met the two Naga rebel leaders in Paris in the 1990s and so did former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao. Born and brought up in Nagaland and someone who had baptism into journalism in Nagaland itself in the early 1990s ?? when the writ of Isak Chishi Swu and his compatriot Muivah as the NSCN (IM) bosses writ large ?? I am not quite sure whether Swu rejoiced the tag of being called a "guerrilla or an underground" or a militant leader. "Such persons are rebels to their own personalities," said one Swedish journalist in 2014 during our interaction in Itanagar in the context of Isak Chishi Swu. Nevertheless, Swu, who like former NNC president A Zapu Phizo will continue to dominate the Naga politics one way or the other, perhaps never aspired to be known as a militant leader. So much was his love for Gospel teaching, that it may be proper to recall him as a rebel ?? who believed in the magical power of 'Nagaland for Christ'. But this Pughoboto assembly seat controversy vis-a-vis Swu's relatives is certainly a painful episode for some people to digest. K L Chishi, former Nagaland Chief Minister is also a relative of Swu. "It is painful that uncle Isak Chishi Swu's name has been dragged into a minor matter like Pughoboto assembly polls," says senior Congress leader Chishi; and he declined to speak out more. But to persistent queries Chishi said, "Those responsible for dragging Isak Swu's name into this row must tender an apology to the late leader". Little known Pughoboto township in remote Nagaland made headlines after the seat share row surfaced. Pughoboto falls in Zunheboto district in the hub of the Sema tribe. The community forms numerical strength in the central region of the state and Semas as voters can easily influence election results in three-four assembly constituencies in Dimapur region besides as many seven segments in Zunheboto district. In 2018, under the seat sharing agreement, this seat was contested by the BJP. Dr A Sukhato Sema had contested the seat and Y Vikheho Swu of NPF had won the seat by a narrow margin of 70 votes only. Dr Sukhato is again aspiring for the saffron party ticket and has been working in the constituency. Swu had shifted to Nagaland Chief Minister Rio-led NDPP in 2021 and now the Chief Minister is under obligation to field Swu from the seat. As it is, Nagaland elections are being held under controversial circumstances and threats of boycott calls by some sections of Nagas in Eastern Nagaland. The seat share between NDPP and the Lotus outfit has snowballed into a major issue for an otherwise political party, the BJP. Statewide protest went across the state including in Kohima, Dimapur and other district towns. BJP leaders Y Patton (deputy CM) and state unit chief Temjen Imna Along met Himanta Biswa Sarma and other BJP leaders in Guwahati on Tuesday and sought to review the seat share arrangements to 30:30. On January 6 during his meeting with BJP core group, Union Home Minister Amit Shah insisted that the party will go ahead with 20:40 arrangements only. At Dimapur, all 60 BJP mandal presidents staged a protest in the Naga Shopping Arcade area on Tuesday (January 24). They put up banners with slogans - "When Meghalaya has only 2 BJP sitting MLA and contesting from all 60 mandals then why Nagaland is given a step-motherly treatment". Some of the banners were directed against Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is also convener of the BJP-led NEDA. "Why Assam CM has the authority to decide the future of another State? Why not Modi?" - screamed another banner. ( is a New Delhi-based journalist. He is also author of books, 'The Talking Guns: North East India' and 'Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth'. Views are personal) /IANS


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