Nagaland could be a byword for political instability. The Naga People’s Front government of Shürhozelie Liezietsu took over less than six months ago but it is already on the rocks. On July 8, TR Zeliang, the previous chief minister, staked claim to lead the government as he had the support of 44 NPF legislators. Liezietsu retaliated by sacking four ministers and 10 parliamentary secretaries seen as belonging to the rival camp.
Such power struggles have been a recurring theme of the NPF-led coalition regime since it was voted to the third term in 2013. The resignation of long-serving chief minister Neiphiu Rio to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha election triggered a leadership race in which Zeliang prevailed. In early 2015, Zeliang himself faced a challenge from dissent MLAs loyal to Rio but he managed to beat it off by aligning with Liezietsu. The partnership did not last long though; in February this year, Liezietsu succeeded his former ally after another political crisis sparked by the violence over the question of women’s representation in Urban Local Bodies. Now, the state may get its fourth chief minister in three years.
This constant political upheaval, which people and commentators now refer to as Nagaland’s Game of Thrones, after the popular TV show, is detrimental for governance. But as subject matter for satire, it is gold. Indeed, satirists in Nagaland are having a field day.
Memes, jokes and music videos lampooning the state’s politicians are flooding the internet. The latest hit is The Kaziranga Song, a parody of Bohemian Rhapsody from the British band Queen’s 1975 album A Night at the Opera.
It was released by Dreamz Unlimited, a theatre and film production company in Dimapur, on July 10. The video has already garnered over 40,000 views on YouTube and has been widely shared on Facebook and through WhatsApp.
The title is a dig at Nagaland legislators’ proclivity for rushing to resorts in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam every time there is a political crisis, presumably for horse-trading.
Is this a big joke, is this just fantasy?
Caught in a jungle escaping reality,
Open your eyes, public are tired of you.
We are all just poor souls, who need no sympathy,
Because we all voted for you, easy cash easy life.
We know where the wind blows,
And it’s blowing towards Kaziranga.
Politicians are not its only target. The song chides the “keyboard warriors” who keep complaining about everything from the comfort of their homes but do nothing on the ground.
Mama keyboard warrior is my call.
Mama, Nagaland is broke,
I need to mend it from the comfort of the house.
Next, it tackles the “tragic contradictions” plaguing Nagaland: “Bad roads, but best cars; land of deficits but buildings are rising up the skies.”
The song ends with a lament.
We are all tired and we need a change now,
So bad, so bad, so baddddd…
Dreamz Unlimited, started in 2008, has to its name several hit parody videos on various issues, including fuel adulteration, the crises over the Urban Local Bodies election, and the Naga people’s obsession with government jobs. Nana – A Tale of Us, a film on politics, family and friendship is slated for release later this month. In an interview last year, the director Tiakumzuk Aier said his company’s videos are “an extension of our plays about contemporary social issues in our society”.