By Nirendra Dev
Dimapur (Nagaland), Jan 6 (SocialNews.XYZ) The message from the state of Nagaland is amply clear, only Prime Minister Narendra Modi can deliver the solution to the vexed Naga problem and so he must.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah was greeted with slogans and banners with Nagas of Nagaland under the aegis of Naga People's Action Committee (for Solution and lasting peace) making an impatient plea to the Central government and the Prime Minister that the people of the state want solution to the Naga problem.
The influential Naga People's Action Committee - a collective body of various tribal bodies and intellectuals and former lawmakers - has even stated in memorandum that if the negotiations happening since 1997 are not brought to its logical conclusion, it is perhaps better to call the Naga talks a "fiasco" as the "indecision does not benefit any party".
"Essentially, our case is elections do not serve any key purpose. This is the story since 1998 when elections were held under constitutional duress and tricks deployed by the Congress party. Now since 2019, we are told the Naga peace talks are over. The Centre is also ready to ink a pact and so is umbrella body of seven militant groups NNPG. So, the issue is very simple: why should the game of sabotage win?" said one volunteer holding one of the banners near the Dimapur airport.
Some of the banner slogans read - 'Enough of Talks and Tall promises. Nagas want action', 'Naga Political Talk cannot be indefinite' and even one 'Amit Shah ji you have the power to deliver Solution'.
The NPAC in a memorandum addressed to Home Minister Shah and signed among others by its convener Theja Therieh and Joshua Sumi (Ex-Parliamentarians Association) among others said that, "Uncertainty looms large till date despite the official negotiations being completed in October 2019".
It further said, "We have lost our faith in the democratic process and therefore strongly demand political solution before the election. We assure you as the primary stakeholders that we will give our utmost cooperation towards implementation of the solution."
The NPAC even went on to state that if the negotiations are not brought to its logical conclusion, it is perhaps better to call the talks a "fiasco" as the "indecision does not benefit any party".
The Naga peace talks had commenced in 1997 during the stint of I.K. Gujral as the Prime Minister and in October 2010 the Modi government and its chief interlocutor R.N. Ravi had said the talks were over. But inking of a peace pact has been delayed and virtually derailed since then with the NSCN-IM insisting on their demands for Naga Flag and a separate Constitution.
Both these demands have been categorically denied by the Centre. The NNPG is also keen to sign the peace pact and in the past it has alleged more than once that things were being delayed and denied by forces 'outside Nagaland'.
"There are leaders who would like to continue with the status quo so that undeterred exploitation of Nagaland and its people could continue. For them 'no solution is solution' so that they could continue to loot the state and its people," wrote 91-year-old former Nagaland CM and ex-Gujarat Governor S.C. Jamir in an article.
Jamir personally enjoys good rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and whom he calls "man with with guts and determination who can deliver and resolve complex issues like that of Nagas".
Jamir was also slated to call on Amit Shah on Friday as Shah arrived here on a whirlwind tour.
The general refrain in Nagaland now is that the 'people's choice' is in favour of an early Solution pact which at least the Centre is keen on and even the Naga National Political Groups (an umbrella body) of seven militant groups are also ready to ink. If solution cannot come before polls, many like the Gaon Burrah (village elders) Federation and the Like Minded Leaders' Forum say President's Rule is the answer.
The only exception with regard to the solution agreement, however, is the NSCN-IM which says the pact, if any, should guarantee a separate Flag and Naga Constitution.
The NNPG in a strongly worded statement on Thursday accused Nagaland BJP chief Temjen Along of trying to sabotage the final peace pact and Solution.
"The politics of 'Election for Solution of 2018' have failed. Indo-Naga political solution is what the Naga tribes and civil societies anticipate. If election is enforced in Nagaland against the people's demand for honourable and acceptable negotiated political settlement, men like Temjen Imna Along as per their trivial activities, will most certainly ensure a wipe out of BJP from Nagaland," the NNPG stated while warning that the 1998 episode and late the Congress debacle and subsequent punishment is staring at Nagaland BJP in the face.
The influential Gaon Burrah Federation (of village elders) in a detailed statement said, "NGBF understands that openly expressing decision to boycott and abstain from democratic exercise in any part of India or in Nagaland either by ENPO of Central Nagaland Tribes Council (CNTC) will seriously dent the image of the largest democratic nation in the world and its political leadership". However, it said that since the matter is about a decades-long political struggle, the people have the legitimate political and historical right to express themselves, in the knowledge that 'negotiations have already concluded'.
On the ENPO demand for a Frontier Nagaland state, the NGBF maintained that "Resolving the Naga political issue and post solution realignments of flawed political and administrative status will fulfil the aspiration of Eastern Nagaland Tribes".
(Nirendra Dev 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)