As the Naga political issue took centre stage again in the Assembly, Nagaland chief minister, Neiphiu Rio Tuesday categorically stated that if Naga political settlement could not be arrived at, then there ought to be a “fresh mandate” by the people on how to pursue the Naga political issue.
Rio said this while participating in the discussion on matters of urgent public importance on the Naga political issue raised earlier by members on the third day of the Assembly session.
Rio had said that “negotiating parties” failed to share a common platform and also not able to accept agreements, have failed to realise people’s expectations, especially that of the youth.
According to Rio, many youths who were expecting solution, had joined various Naga political groups in the hope that they would be benefitted in the event of solution.
He said such a hope was belied when negotiating parties refused to accept any of the agreements.
Rio reminded that the Naga political issue had been discussed at every session of the Assembly besides passing of three resolutions during the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly and 17 resolutions since 1964.
He also mentioned that the government had held several consultative meetings with all stakeholders and several resolutions also passed during the process.
Rio however said political settlement could not be arrived and it was for this very reason that all 60 legislators had come together for early realization of a solution.
Nonetheless, Rio emphasised that Naga political resolution remained at the top agenda of the state government, which was why it had been playing an active role as facilitator. While stating that the Church was one platform where people could come together, Rio called upon the church leaders and civil societies to give a clarion call and make their voice loud and clear, and that settlement should be taken.
Since the basis of the Naga issue had been duly recognized by Government of India as a political issue and the then Prime Minister, AB Vajpayee declaring it as unique, Rio stated that the elected members, Naga leaders, churches and even the youth needed to be included.
The chief minister therefore appealed to all negotiating parties to actively work for a settlement that is honourable, just, and acceptable to the people.
Centre won’t accept separate flag, constitution: Minister for Higher Education and Tribal Affairs, Imna Along, asked why was there delay in coming to a settlement if the Naga political talks had already been concluded.
Along was apprehensive of mass protest by pressure groups and civil society organizations demanding “solution first then election” if solution was not delivered within the next 6-7 months.
He stressed on the need to make compromises at the negotiating table and come to a common ground for the sake of the people. On the issue of the demand for flag and constitution, Along recalled that when he along with the chief minister had met Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, they were told that it (separate flag and constitution) would not happen even in the next 400 years. He remined that the Government of India can never agree to anything that was beyond the purview of the Constitution.
Joining in the discussion, advisor for Technical Education and Elections, Medo Yhokha said the Naga political movement was a genuine movement which the Nagas had been fighting without wavering for the last many decades. He said the stalemate on solution should not prolong, as without settlement the future generation would go through the same phase as experienced in the past.
Advisor, Science and Technology, IT and NRE, Mmhonlumo Kikon pointed out that the Nagas were yearning for an early political solution, especially the youths with big dreams and expectations to move ahead.
He also pointed out that the Parliamentary Core Committee constituted by the house, irrespective of party affiliation, was to play the role of an active facilitator and that the elected members were working tirelessly for early political settlement– transparent and honourable to the Naga people.
Advisor, Sericulture, Excise and Minority Affairs, Zhaleo Rio voiced disappointment that after much discussions, debates, consultations with Naga stakeholders and with the Assembly passing many resolutions urging the negotiating parties to come together to work for the good of the people and in spite of talks being concluded on 31st October 2019 things are still not clear.
He said the 60 legislators, as elected members, represented the voice of the Nagas and has the mandate to speak and facilitate for a peaceful settlement. He also questioned that if the national workers were working for Nagas, what was stopping them from coming together.
Taking part int the discussion, Advisor, Justice & Law and SCERT, H. Chuba Chang said all the Nagas were for a solution as talks had already been concluded. He said if the negotiating parties do not have any hidden agenda, then they should come forward and do their part so that Nagas would have a sense of peace of mind. He wondered what legacy would the present leaders leave behind for the next generation if they do not take any concrete decisions on the issue.
NPF MLA Yitachu said that State was suffering from “justice deficiency” and that this was the root cause for so many groups and factions and disunity among the people.
He said that the role of the legislators as facilitators cannot be undermined and to say that the legislators have no role in the Naga talks was completely out of context.
He said this was the right time to take some definite steps towards and utilize the coming together of all 60 legislators as an opportunity to convince the Centre to take up the issue seriously and come to an amicable settlement at the earliest.
Recalling the hardships that the society had endured, NPF MLA, E.E. Pangteang stated since Naga talk was in its final stage, it was for the NGOs, civil societies, political parties, negotiating parties to unite and take it forward, work on it, so as to arrive at a peaceful solution.
Taking part in the discussion, NPF legislator, Chotisuh Sazo said it was high time that Nagas were freed from this political tangle, and be enabled to move forward on the road to peace, development and prosperity.
Imchen for PR to hasten solution
Earlier, initiating the discussion, NPF legislator Imkong L. Imchen said that the continuous delay in coming towards a negotiated settlement has resulted in frustration among the Nagas and that the people of Nagaland were slowly losing faith in the ongoing peace process.
He therefore suggested that the House can be kept under animated suspension or even dissolved and President’s Rule imposed so as to conduct speedy negotiation in order to bring about a negotiated settlement at the earliest.