CM, LoP reiterate inclusive Naga solution

CM, LoP reiterate inclusive Naga solution
T.R. Zelaing and Neiphiu Rio
Correspondent Kohima, Feb 16 (NPN) | Publish Date: 2/16/2021 1:35:16 PM IST

 Naga issue is about what is right for Nagas: Zeliang 

Leader of Opposition (LoP) T.R. Zeliang said the Naga political issue was not about who was right but what was right for Nagas, while participating in the discussion on the Naga political issue on the third day of the ongoing NLA session.
Zeliang said what was being witnessed was a disturbing trend in recent times whereby Nagas were either in denial or indirectly stimulating disintegration of the Naga political movement. Pointing to the many splintered groups formed, he said it was time for Nagas, irrespective of whether they were underground or over ground, to ponder and seek an answer as to what was right and not keep on asking who was right.
Zeliang said that Nagas have struggled for decades for an amicable and early solution and this remains the desire and aspiration of all Nagas spread across four Indian States and two nations. He also mentioned about the activities undertaken by Political Affairs Mission (PAM) of NPF for “One Solution, One Accord”. He said the PDA government later also adopted a similar resolution for “One Solution for One People” on October 15, 2020.
Zeliang reminded the House that the chief minister in the past, had also asserted that genuine peace in the land could be achieved only through political settlement based on Nagas’ historical and political rights and on the “unique history and position of Nagas”.  Therefore, he said this should be pursued in letter and spirit, and solution should be based in line with this principle. According to Zeliang, NPF stood for inclusiveness though the word “Inclusive” was interpreted in various ways by different section of people.
Zeliang said NPF believed that all Nagas living in all Naga ancestral lands be stakeholders in any kind of solution. He also said all Naga political groups should sign ceasefire agreements with the Centre and also join the peace talks for solution to the protracted Naga issue. He also reminded that past mistakes be not repeated but lessons learnt from them as “mistakes are meant for learning, not repeating” adding lessons be learnt from past agreements and accords to reach a solution this time.
Zeliang opined that past agreements had caused disagreements because, though the signatories were visionary Naga leaders, yet the underground leaders were not taken into confidence at the time of signing them and this resulted in the present-day situation where peace continued to remain elusive.
 Zeliang said many governments at the Centre had come and gone, but no positive step was taken towards resolving the Naga political issue other than the Modi government which signed the Framework Agreement.  Zeliang renewed past suggestion for sending a delegation comprising ruling and opposition members to meet the Prime Minister and appeal to him to resolve the long-pending issue once and for all to bring permanent peace in Nagaland in particular and the Northeast in general.
Raising the issue on the role of Interlocutors, Zeliang cited the case of former Interlocutor RS Pandey. He said Pandey, after having done his homework, prepared a proposal on what could be done for the Nagas. He said Pandey placed the proposal before the highest authority, but it was turned down.
Subsequently, Zeliang said Pandey had no other option but to resign as Interlocutor. He said Nagas would never see light of the day if they depended only on brokers or Interlocutors.
Zeliang also shared his observation on the differences between Ravi and NSCN (I-M). He opined that the misunderstanding and miscommunications galore, has negatively impacted the ongoing talks and slowed the overall progress.
In this regard, he said it was the responsibility of the NLA to sort out differences, if any, between the interlocutor and NSCN (I-M)instead of watching the apparent breakdown of trust. In this regard, Zeliang assured of support from the opposition members. 
Zeliang said Naga people were confused because of the contradictions in the statements of Ravi and NSCN (I-M), with each blaming the other over some change made in the Framework Agreement.
He urged all 60 members of the House to rise above politics and appeal to the government of India to work out a formula with political will, to bring out a concrete proposal in black and white and placed it before the Naga negotiating groups for an agreement that was acceptable, honourable and inclusive.
Zeliang also requested the chief minister to take into consideration the suggestion of opposition MLAs to set up a committee with two or three members each from NPF, NDPP and BJP and one Independent, where leader of the House could be the chairman with two co-chairmen.
He said such a forum would optimise a working mechanism as it will be more convenient and result in better coordination between the members. He exuded confidence that leader of the House would consider the views of opposition bench without prejudice and work together towards attaining desired goal.
 He added that if past Agreements and Accords are any indication, it is time to learn from them and bring out a tenable solution this time. 
Naga solution will usher era of peace & progress: Rio
Leader of the house and chief minister Neiphiu Rio, responding to the discussion said that a political solution that is honourable and acceptable to the Naga people will usher in a new era of rapid economic growth, all round progress and greater employment opportunities for our youth. While asserting that Assembly being the highest platform of democracy in the State that carried the voice and aspirations of masses, Rio said it was important for the House to deliberate on the longstanding Naga issue by expressing people’s desires and feelings.
As the House reflected people’s voice, he said whatever was deliberated on the floor would be recorded in history for all times to come.  
Rio also recalled the journey of the Naga political movement from the birth of Naga Club in 1918, submission of memorandum to the Simon Commission in 1929, institution of Naga Hills District Tribal Council on June 10, 1945and the first Naga political body under the nomenclature of Naga National Council (NNC) formed a year later. He also referred to the 9-Point Agreement on June 26, 1947, declaration of Naga independence on August 14, 1947; Naga plebiscite on May 16, 1951 by NNC under the leadership of AZ Phizo, first general election of 1952 under independent India which was boycotted by the Nagas.
Rio responded to the concern expressed the previous day by opposition NPF member L. Imkong Imchen on the governor’s inaugural address wherein he (governor) had stated that “talks had concluded.” 
Imchen’s contention was the contradiction with union home minister of state G. Kishan Reddy’s reply to the Lok Sabha on February 12, wherein he said  “negotiations are at an advanced stage”, in response to a starred question from Nagaland MP Tokheho Yepthomi.
Rio also cited the governor’s message on Statehood Day, wherein it stated that “common understanding having been reached on all the issues on the table and conclusion of the talks on October 31, 2019, the people of Nagaland are anxiously waiting for the new dawn”. Rio said the statement made by Ravi, who is also interlocutor of the political dialogue, and was widely reported in the media.
Rio also shared details of the initiatives taken by Joint Legislators’ Forum (JLF), including the resolution, the appeal to all sections of people, including tribal hohos and mass-based civil society organisations, and the appeal to neighbouring States seeking all possible support and cooperation.
He also mentioned about the October 15 consultative meeting where a seven-point resolution was adopted.
Further, in yet another step towards further facilitating the peace process, he said a joint statement was issued by him and leader of opposition TR Zeliang on December 18, 2020 welcoming the positive approach of Government of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah towards expediting the ongoing peace process and urged all Naga political groups to come together under the spirit of reconciliation, mutual trust and understanding.
At this critical juncture, Rio stressed that it was of utmost importance that the Naga society stood as one, spoke as one and gave a final push to collectively achieve a settlement and remove the shackles that burdened the society once and for all.
He averred that a democratic and just settlement of the Naga political issue would not only bring permanent peace and stability to the entire North-eastern region, but also directly strengthen the democratic foundations of this great nation.
After taking note of the discussion and concern raised by the members, Rio suggested selecting a drafting committee for drafting a resolution with representatives from all political parties. He said a collective voice reflecting the unity of NLA should go out loud and clear so that a positive message of hope was received by all stakeholders, strengthening their efforts towards unity.
On the proposal of the LOP to constitute Joint Parliamentary Committee, Rio informed that the matter will be discussed with the respective political parties and will come for discussion later. 
In his concluding remarks, Rio appreciated all members for their participation on the Naga political issue.

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