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Deferment of polls unlikely: Ravi

Tinakali Sümi DIMAPUR, JAN 9 (NPN)
Published on 9 Jan. 2018 11:21 PM IST
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Even as the clamour for “Solution before Election”, against holding of the Assembly election in Nagaland, has been voiced out by various civil society organizations including elected representatives, government of India’s Interlocutor for Naga Talks, R.N. Ravi on Tuesday categorically stated that postponement of elections in Nagaland was unlikely.
Holding of elections is the mandate of the Election Commission of India (ECI) and postponement of elections was “unlikely” unless there was “sufficient substantive change in the facts on the ground,” he said.
“I believe an Agreement resolving the Naga political issue could constitute such a change,” Ravi said in an exclusive telephonic interview with Nagaland Post.
In this regard, Ravi has called upon the Naga civil societies and intellectuals to urge the negotiating Naga groups to be “more realistic in their approach”.
Excerpts of the interview
NP: Various Naga Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) including Government of Nagaland have requested Government of India to postpone the ensuing Assembly election in Nagaland. In the last few days CSOs have come out with memorandums demanding ‘Solution before Election’. Is it likely that elections would be postponed?
Ravi: I am aware of and respectful to the popular Naga sentiments. The people are eager for an early solution. I can assure you that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to an early solution and I am doing my best for early solution. However, you would appreciate that an agreement requires consent of both the parties. An agreement is like jumping a well. You can’t jump it one foot short!
The question now is to bridge that last one foot!
I believe it is possible with each side realistically understanding the position and difficulties of the other. Until then the small gap remains keeping the solution away.
As for holding the elections to the state legislature, I have said so in the past also, it is the mandate of the Election Commission which is an independent body.
It is unlikely to postpone the elections beyond the due date unless there is sufficient substantive change in the facts on the ground. I believe an Agreement resolving the Naga political issue could constitute such a change. I would urge the Naga Civil Societies and intellectuals to urge also the negotiating Naga groups to be more realistic in their approach.
NP:  Then how soon can Naga people expect Government of India and the Naga Political Groups (NSCN-IM & WC of NNPGs) to sign the final agreement?
Ravi: The peace process is at an advanced stage. With the NSCN (I-M), which has been spearheading the talks for over 20 years from Naga side, the substantive issues have been, by and large, resolved. Sincere efforts are on to resolve some remaining symbolic issues. These are sensitive on both sides.
Now the NNPGs also have joined the Peace Process. They have, so far, shown commendable maturity necessary for the success. I am hopeful of eventually reaching the Agreement soon. However as you know an agreement needs consensus of both the parties. While my endeavour is to conclude it as soon as possible, I can’t unilaterally set a deadline. I assure the Naga people that the parties involved are working hard for an expeditious conclusion of the Peace Process. I am grateful to the Naga civil societies for their constructive role in the peace process.

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