Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The enigma of Naga politics


Undoubtedly, the first responders among the Naga peoples’ movement for political liberation are revolutionary nationalists.They think they primarily lived, shall live and are ready to sacrifice their lives at the altar of national liberation movement. At times, they also think they’re already dead and living on borrowed times. They are not afraid of any challenges including laying down their lives anytime, anywhere, if it’s the call of their nation. Elders say, ‘do not confront them with your emotions. They are just like fire; you will get burned’. Ordinary people cannot do that including those who are sitting in their comfort zone, often known for their sweet appetite in giving advices and criticisms. To deal with such highly surcharged dogmatic revolutionary nationalists the enemy camp did everything to crush them and even deploy gendermes to offset the claims of nationalists. In the process many avoidable loss of life and property took place. All said and done in Nagalim and yet the game is still up the ante.
Current peace talks
On-again off-again political negotiation between Government of India (GoI) and National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) over the past 25 years looks like a political faux pas, if not for a game changer at risk. To an avid observer like my neighbour, the conduct of GoI is seemingly perfunctory at best and just buying time to decimate the nationalist group. Though high on political symbolism there is a glaring lack of focus on desired mood and temperature for a new beginning, much less under the most likely consequential Framework Agreement (FA) of 2015. The political review of FA is against the idea of national integration and, therefore, to deconstruct it the GoI has deftly designed counter strategy to dilute the political impact of FA. A political satirist aptly quipped Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) as New Nouns and Pronouns Groups succinctly created and aided by the former interlocutor in the theatre of Naga political movement as counter weight to NSCN and its principle stand. The political significance of Agreed Position (AP) signed between NNPGs and GoI is far from the logical truth of ‘there is only one Naga issue and there will be only one solution with the Naga people’. NNPGs, being a conglomerate political rival groups formed against NSCN, as long as GoI indulges in pitting Naga people against each other, it cannot produce effective peaceful co-existence of the two entities. NSCN needs a review of it focus on the political expediency of current peace talks.When trust became the casualty it is a testimony of incompetence or betrayal on the part of either of the parties.
Divided Naga house
Keen observers of the Naga political issue are of the view that negotiation table is for two rival parties. It is desirable that any individual or group willing to represent Nagalim should think outside the box and beyond the shackles of chains. Today, Naga society is a divided house. While some Nagas are looking for solution within the framework of Indian constitution, others are for outside the box arrangement. The first category’s interest is better represented by the GoI itself. Now look at the present scenario: NNPGs, Nagaland legislative Assembly (NLA), Central Naga Tribal Council (CNTC), Nagaland Tribal Council (NTC), Goan Buras Federation (GBF), Nagaland Peoples’ Alliance Committee (NPAC) etc. are all affront parties of GoI. It’s a piquant situation. Tenyemi and Eastern Naga Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) are divided houses. Naga Hoho has been asphyxiated already. There is not a single Naga civil society that encompasses all tribes and political parties. Just imagine, if NSCN is not around what challenges remained as a force to reckon with? One may say, Naga National Council (NNC). Which NNC? GoI never takes NNC seriously. The core committee of the NLA itself is a part of the Indian constitutional scheme and its role is limited to facilitating the talks between GoI and NSCN. Whereas NSCN has got different perspective and they are not ready to accept solution within the constitution of India. The irony is that some of us still think Naga nationalism shall rise up like a phoenix to save us out of the blue. Look at the ground reality. That’s the mirror and not the fiction.
Further, some Naga intellectuals categorically slammed on the sincerity of GOI and continued, ‘Slam dunk hoppers of the AP believed that talks between India and NNPGs has been concluded on 31st October, 2019. Under the deal Nagaland will remain within the union of India with a windfall gain of economic benefits for Nagas of Nagaland. It is in stark contrast to the nonchalant pan Naga political stand of the NSCN laid out in the FA. In reality many political pundits think that once FA is materialised the Nagas’ political struggle shall automatically come to an end. Some within the AP propounders are of the view that as of now it is not good for Nagas to have signed any final agreement with India and deep inside their heart they wish NSCN to continue the movement until the time Nagas can achieve complete sovereignty. In the meantime, they want all possible economic benefits from the AP agreement if the central government is fool hardy to believe so’. In all likelihood, signing of two separate agreements is not going to script a new dawn of peaceful solution acceptable to all parties’.
Undisputed political position
A veteran Naga civil right activist in Kohima takes his unbiased shot, ‘In the given situation, there are just two camps. One is within and the other is outside the box of Indian constitutional schemes. The one which is within cannot represent the views of those outside the box’.
This way NSCN stood like a pain in the neck for GoI as it represents pan Naga interest. For others NSCN is like a pain in their ass. Because, the bait like ‘so near yet so far’ effervescent is itching to scratch yet remain a grope. Recently during Naga solidarity walk at Tahamzam (Senapati) I met a curious senior citizen with a colourful Naga coiffer as his signature of Naganess. To my surprise he minces no words and say, ‘National struggle for right to self-determination is not for spineless opportunist. It needs courage, sweat, blood and tears. Man & woman of that breed deserved to lead the people. All other harangues are voices of either spent force or agents of the enemy. However, we are of the view that NSCN being the principal negotiator has an enormous responsibility to protect the national identity, land, history, culture, language and people or else it has no future in the Naga society. We believe NSCN still stands for Naga flag and constitution to safeguard Naga identity and to guarantee their legal position in the proposed new arrangement.’ His observation sounds like representing the resilient voice of silent majority of the Naga people standing at the threshold of history in the making.
Clarity in conceptual politics
In Dimapur, a flamboyant Naga political theorist was rather candidly speaking to some Naga civil society leaders, ‘Practically no nation on earth can exist without a political concept of its own. The capacity to make, unmake laws or things never comes on a platter on its own without a fight for justice. We may have a big right but we can never realise it unless we stand up and fight for it. But to stand up for our rights, it is an abstract idea of nationalism that makes all the difference. This abstract idea is not a mere theory. Everything has its own basis and we cannot ask for exception. Scheming on distorted facts and imported false narratives of our enemies to demonize our people who are more adapt to ups and downs of national struggle for liberation is an act of timid pseudo intellectuals. Conflict of interest between two ideologically different concepts are not mere personality issues. It cannot be equated as differences in their temperament or choice. It is the basis of leading to different destiny’. Truly, Naga people should have conceptual clarity to survive on their own.
Indeed, living is no laughing matter. It is a serious business. Panting to live a respectable life does not believe in choosing the primrose path. Some irresponsible Pseudo-nationalists playing with lives and fate of Naga society is no laughing matter at all. The problem of tomorrow being a debate of today warrants more public audit on Naga political discourse. Of course, our differences cannot be bigger than our oneness, our purpose of living cannot be bigger than our humanity. And yet the enigma of Naga politics with two known inconsistent theories, they both cannot be correct. Nagas as one people have the right to choose one destiny. Now is the time to have your say.
Worso Zimik is a legal practitioner based in Delhi and can be reached at worsozim@yahoo.com
(The observation is personal)