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Congress weighing legal options before action against Nagaland MLAs

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New Delhi: Even as the budget session of the Nagaland assembly is on, the Congress leadership in the capital is all set to take action “very soon” against all its eight MLAs who have joined the state’s Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) coalition government of which the BJP is a part.

picture from- legislativebodiesinindia.nic.in
picture from- legislativebodiesinindia.nic.in

“The Congress high command is holding consultations with legal experts and will take action against these MLAs very soon,” party general secretary in charge of Nagaland, V. Narayanasamy, said, adding that all options were being considered.

In May, all eight Congress MLAs – S.I. Jamir, Tokheho Yepthomi, Apok Jamir, Hukavi Zhimomi, Imti Wabang, Imti Kumzuk Longkumar, Ishak Konyak and Khekaho – joined the Nagaland People’s Front (NPF)-led DAN government throwing the political landscape into a state of flux.

S.I. Jamir and Apok Jamir also happen to be the brother and son respectively of former Congress chief minister and current Governor of Odisha, S.C. Jamir.

While Tokheho Yepthomi was made minister for public health and engineering, S.I Jamir holds cabinet rank as advisor to chief minister and Imti Kumzuk Longkumar was made deputy speaker of the assembly.

The other five MLAs were made parliamentary secretaries.

The sequence of events unfolded from February this year when the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) president S.I. Jamir and then Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Tokheho Yepthomi briefed party president Sonia Gandhi that they would like to join the government of Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang.

“The party president said that she had no problem in them joining the DAN government provided the BJP was not a part of it,” explained Narayanasamy.

The two state leaders then informed Zeliang that the Congress high command has approved of them joining his government provided the BJP was not a part of it.

In April, a “political affairs committee” of the party’s state unit passed a resolution approving the MLAs’ bid to join the government.

But party members raised objections saying that such a resolution can only be passed by the executive committee and not by any political affairs committee.

“You see, the resolution was not unanimous and the party was split on the issue,” Narayanasamy said.

On May 5, Gandhi appointed K. Therie as the NPCC president and the very next day the latter issued a directive to the MLAs not to join the DAN government.

According to Narayanasamy, on May 7, a press statement was also issued saying that the MLAs have been directed by the Congress president not to join the DAN government “as we cannot be on the same side as that of a communal party like BJP”.

The very next day, the eight MLAs were inducted into the government.

“I, as party general secretary, immediately suspended them and issued a show-cause notice,” Narayanasamy said.

So what was their response?

“They said that to solve the Naga political issue, the chief minister has proposed an all-party government and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given an assurance (in December last year) that the Naga issue would be solved within 18 months. They also said that in case the party leaders felt that they have violated the party directive, they were sorry,” the Congress general secretary said.

Narayanasamy then sent a rejoinder saying that the MLAs’ act of joining the government was not acceptable and “as a matter of principle, the Congress and the BJP cannot sit in the same government”.

“We also said that though you are suspended from the party, you are still Congressmen and you have to oppose the government on the floor of the house,” he said.

The party also issued a three-line whip on this basis to the eight MLAs a week before the ongoing budget session of the assembly that started on July 21. However, there has been no reply to the latest whip.

“We are now consulting legal experts on whether to move the speaker and disqualify them from the assembly or to expel them from the party,” Narayanasamy said.

“We will take a decision within a very short period.”

(IANS)

Next Story

Are There Enough Jobs In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Led India?

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

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VOA
Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. Pixabay

For people streaming in from rural areas around New Delhi, the first stop is a collection of busy city intersections where contractors select daily wage labor from the crowds of young and old waiting every morning to get work.

Many standing at these intersections say they get work for barely half the month. “I have the ability to work hard. I never turn down any work. But I would prefer to get a cleaner, permanent job,” says 29-year-old Tek Chand. “The problem is one day I have money to buy rations, the next day I don’t.” Like millions of others, he migrated from his village three years ago to seek work and a better life in the city.

FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, arrives with his cabinet colleagues on the opening day of the budget session of the Indian Parliament, in New Delhi, Jan. 31, 2019. VOA
As India prepares for general elections on April 11, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being attacked by opposition parties for failing to make good on a promise he made in 2014 to create millions of jobs for India’s huge young population. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party rebuts that criticism and says India is generating new opportunities as it becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies.

Job creation is a massive challenge for a nation with one of the world’s youngest populations — half the country’s 1.3 billion people are under the age of 25.

Recent data shows that joblessness has soared to record high levels. Opposition parties have made joblessness one of their principal election planks and have accused the prime minister of failing the estimated 8 to 10 million young people who enter the workforce every year.

The independent Mumbai-based Center for Monitoring Indian Economy estimates that unemployment reached 7.2 percent last month and that 11 million jobs were lost in 2018. With a working population of 500 million, that translates into more than 30 million people waiting for jobs. An unpublished official survey that showed unemployment at a 45-year-high has also been widely quoted by Indian media.

India's main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019.
India’s main opposition Congress party President Rahul Gandhi speaks during a public meeting at Adalaj in Gandhinagar, India, March 12, 2019. VOA

On the campaign trail, the head of the main opposition Congress Party, Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as Modi’s principal challenger, talks repeatedly about a “jobs crisis.”

“Our government is refusing to accept that we have a massive crisis and potential disaster in front of us,” Gandhi told a group of university students in New Delhi recently, many who will be first time voters.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party dismisses concerns about the job data saying it does not capture the real picture because it focuses only on the 15 percent of Indians who work in the formal economy. It points to a recent industry report that jobs have been created in the medium and small sectors.

The BJP says millions of people have found work in the transport and infrastructure sectors or as delivery boys in booming online businesses as India becomes one of the world’s fastest growing major economies. They point out that the issue is not jobs but livelihoods, and point to millions of people who are not counted in job data.

They are self-employed people like cab owner Chain Pal Singh. As the app based taxi business boomed, Singh’s friend, who operated a cab, persuaded him to quit his job and take out a loan to buy a car. His decision has paid off — in four years he has earned enough money to invest in two more cabs.

Singh says he is much better off than when he held a job. “I used to earn about $225 dollars a month. Now in some months I can earn almost double that amount. Its beneficial for me.”

Following defeats in key state elections in December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told parliament last month, “This truth has to be acknowledged. The unorganized sector has 80 to 85 percent of the employment.” He pointed to millions of commercial vehicles sold in recent years and questioned if they had not generated jobs for drivers.

Economists admit India’s large informal sector has made it difficult to calculate employment, but they say joblessness or underemployment remains the country’s biggest challenge. While scarcity of jobs is not a new problem, two disruptive economic steps in the last two years exacerbated the problem.

In 2016 a sweeping currency ban meant to tackle the problem of illegal cash, dried up jobs as it created huge currency shortages, particularly in small businesses and in the countryside. A poorly-implemented tax reform known as the Goods and Services Tax a few months later was another blow to businesses.

Meanwhile, Modi’s “Made in India” campaign, which aimed at making India a manufacturing hub like China, has made a slow start and sluggish labor-intensive sectors cannot cater to growing numbers of job seekers.

“We can’t keep patting ourselves on the back that we are the fastest growing economy specially if all these other indicators are not growing at a rate that will absorb the growing labor force,” says Santosh Mehrotra, a human development economist at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

“More young people are entering the labor force, millions want to leave agriculture but can’t find construction work because construction activity has slowed down because the investment rate in the economy has slowed down.”

Also Read: The Mental Health ‘Epidemic’: About Six in Ten Teen Say, They Feel A Lot Of Pressure To Get Good Grades

He points out that exports, another sector that created a number of jobs has also not been performing well.

As the campaign heats up, the opposition will try to keep the spotlight on jobs, or lack of them, even as the BJP tries to focus on national security following a recent confrontation with Pakistan. The final verdict on whether to give Prime Minister Modi a second term in office will be delivered by millions of voters when they cast their ballots. (VOA)