Monday, October 3, 2022

Mother of all confusions

Everyone within and beyond Nagaland sincerely want the Naga political issue to get resolved since it has been lingering on for decades without any visible achievement, territorially, economically and politically. Even the biggest visible achievement, courtesy the mediators who became negotiators, that led to creation of Nagaland state; did not lead to closure of the chapter. The movement continued on even with ups and downs mostly due to the obstinacy of those who could not imagine giving up an ideology even if that had caused and created several splits in the movement since 1968 etc. Today there are over a dozen groups or Naga political groups and most of who have signed cease fire agreements with the government of India. That is a reality which was witnessed at the first cease fire agreement in 1964, barely a year after Nagaland statehood. The NNC held a series of negotiations with the then prime minister Indira Gandhi from 1967 onwards. She was the most powerful leader in India and also much respected internationally those days. As the dominant leader of a dominant ruling party, Indira was willing to go the extra mile with the NNC/FGN negotiators in order to close the turbulent chapter through signing of a broad-based agreement under the constitution of India. However, as fate would have, the talks failed in 1968 as there was no meeting ground between the two sides but mostly owing to some gap supposedly created by a hawkish bureaucracy. When the second cease fire was signed in 1997 with the NSCN (I-M) there were high hopes that the issue would get resolved as the latter was the most potent of all groups. Thus in 1998 people wanted solution and political leaders also joined in so as not to miss out and agreed to boycott the elections. It was clear that as state political leaders they had somehow failed to gauge the situation in order to apply their minds as solution was easier said than done. Except Congress all other parties chose to not participate in the 1998 election including BJP. Then in 2018 scores of public leaders had repeated the slogan ‘Solution Not Election’ as coined by this newspaper in 1998. In 2018 the BJP and the NDPP indicated that winning elections was a solution half done when they went to the polls. The then ruling NPF had no choice but to follow. Now its almost five years after the series of negotiations and three years after official talks concluded on October 31,2019 but there is no hint of solution, except promises. The NNPGs have said they are ready to effect any solution in Nagaland while NSCN (I-M) is insisting on its interpretation of the competencies. The waiting has been in vain since 1998 and even 2018 and despite the clear promises of prime minister Narendra Modi for an early solution. The waiting appears indefinite and rightly, Naga public have expressed their resentment at a huge rally in Dimapur on August 5. The cat is out of the bag and clearly the conjunction of the NDPP-BJP on the 2003 promise of solution within three months is unmistakably exposed as rhetoric, slogan and ambiguity while the issue could evolve into something many may not have imagined.