Early life and Career
A native of Sutemi in the Zunheboto district of Nagaland, Sema studied at the Serampore College and St Anthony’s College in Shillong. He joined government service in the 1950s as a school inspector, later serving as an assistant commissioner of the then Naga Hills district of undivided Assam. In the late 1950s, he became a member of the drafting committee of Naga People’s Convention. A sixteen point agreement signed with the Government of India on the basis of this Convention led to the formation of the separate state of Nagaland in 1960. Sema became a member of the interim body of the new state government in 1961.
Chief Minister of Nagaland
Hokishe Sema was the third Chief Minister of Nagaland and in his career went on to hold that post four times, serving from 1967–69, 1969–74, 1982–87 and 1987-88. He was the first Chief Minister of Nagaland to complete two full terms in office in a state notorious for its political instability and defections. In the 1960s, he became Chief Minister as head of the Naga Nationalist Organisation while in the 1980s he held that post as leader of the Congress(I). He served as Chief Minister for a total of 12 years and 8 months. Sema’s tenure as chief minister is remembered for the role he played in getting Naga underground members to surrender and their subsequent integration and redeployment as a full battalion of the Border Security Force. From 1969 to 1974 and 1982-1987, his government provided Nagaland with a measure of political stability.
Later Political Career
He was elected to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly six times during which time he also served as the Finance Minister of the state and as the president of the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee. From April 1983 to March 1986 he served as Governor of Himachal Pradesh and was later a member of the Rajya Sabha.
In 1994 he left the Congress owing to differences with the chief minister, S C Jamir and formed the Nationalist Democratic Movement. He joined the BJP in 1999 and went on to become that party’s national executive member. In 2003 he was reelected to the Nagaland Assembly as the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Dimapur-I. He became leader of the BJP’s legislature party and chairman of the ruling Democratic Alliance of Nagaland(DAN) with Neiphiu Rio as Chief Minister. He authored The Emergence of Nagaland in 1986.
Hokishe Sema died on January 31, 2007.