Friday, July 1, 2022

Centre on solution to Naga political issue- it’s now or never

Spl. Correspondent

Political development in Nagaland, the crucible of over seven decades of Naga political movement, is at the crossroad as the government of India appears to be inching closer to the desire of the Nagas for early solution to the Naga political issue.
There is discernible frustration and resentment among Nagas against the prolonged delay in securing a solution to the Naga political issue despite official negotiations having concluded on October 31,2019.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also held meetings with the state legislators under Core Committee as well as with senior most veteran Naga politician and former Governor Dr. S.C. Jamir on the issue. Dr Jamir also held a meeting to discuss the Naga political issue with union home minister Amit Shah at the latter’s invitation in Delhi recently.
The Core Committee led by the chief minister Neiphiu Rio as Convenor and co-convenors: Dy. chief minister Y. Patton (BJP) T.R. Zeliang (then NPF), and Kuzholuzo Neinu (NPF legislature party leader) will be meeting with prime minister Narendra Modi and union home minister Amit Shah in Delhi.
The Core Committee representatives have been meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah to brief him about their role as “facilitators” especially in getting all NPGs on board for one solution.
Legislators have been maintaining securing solution to the Naga political issue was the single-most important issue on agenda. The claim by legislators of attesting utmost importance to early solution since many years, has been jolted by BJP legislature Party Leader and deputy chief minister Y. Patton who is also co-convenor of the Core Committee. Patton said he was not afraid to boldly say that while majority of Nagas want early solution, some don’t want it because they are exploiting the situation.
Patton on May 14, has said that if solution was not possible under present situation, then the state should be brought under President’s Rule. He said Nagas of Nagaland should unite for solution to expose those who are against solution.
Patton even said that he will give the same message to the prime minister when the core committee delegation meets him in Delhi. Legislators have been repeating that they will pave way for an alternative arrangement when solution to the Naga political issue is achieved. However, the legislators said that they will resign some months before a scheduled assembly election and not soon after being elected.
Therefore, the demand for President’s Rule could be plausible if the government of India makes its formal offer to the NPGs to ink an agreement before assembly election in 2023. Nagaland is slated to go to the polls either by end of February or beginning of March 2023.
If the agreement is signed by August( or before August 15,2022) then PR can be promulgated and assembly put under suspended animation for an alternative or interim government likely to comprise of representatives of NPGs and possibly legislators .
Under such a situation, the 2023 election could be extended so that six months after the installation of an interim government, assembly elections could be held by March 2023.
Nagas have been expecting eventual solution to the Naga political issue after 24 years and over 90 negotiations between the government of India and Naga Political Groups-NSCN(I-M) and 7-member Working Committee, Naga National Political Groups(NNPGs).
Solution requires unanimity for inking the final agreement between the government of India and the negotiating Naga Political Groups(NPGs)- NSCN(I-M) and 7-member Working Committee, Naga National Political Groups(NNPGs).
The government of India has made it clear that it is ready for one solution for one Naga political issue with NPGs and not two solutions for the two NPGs for one issue.
The main hurdle towards inking and agreement stems from the issue of Naga flag and constitution being part of the final agreement as raised by the NSCN (I-M). The government of India has said it in no uncertain terms that the demand was unacceptable in the past, the present and future. However, the Centre said the two can addressed post-solution but only for Naga cultural and social events.
State political parties – the then ruling Progressive Democratic Alliance(PDA) comprising of NDPP, BJP and Independents and the opposition Naga People’s Front(NPF) – came together to form an opposition-less government titled United Democratic Alliance (UDA) on August 11,2021.
The recent exodus of 21 out of 25 NPF legislators to NDPP has only deepened suspense over the need for such when all parties have always made appeals for unity among the NPGs and CSOs in creating a conducive atmosphere for peaceful solution.
The coming together under UDA was also considered superfluous since an all-party legislators’ forum already exists under the name of Core Committee for Naga Political Issue.
Towards the end of October 2019, then government of India’s Interlocutor for Naga peace talks, Ravi maintained that crucial issues have been resolved and the few unresolved would be addressed post-solution. Ravi had also made it clear that the demand for flag and constitution was not included in the Framework Agreement, he signed on behalf of the government of India with the NSCN(I-M) on August 3,2015.
NSCN (I-M) expressed outrage as it insisted that flag and constitution were part and parcel of the Framework Agreement. The spat between the Interlocutor and the NSCN(I-M) was frowned upon by the Centre. As a consequence, Ravi was removed as governor of Nagaland on September 9,2021 and days later resigned as Interlocutor on September 22, 2021.


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