NPF withdraws from Joint Legislators Forum

DIMAPUR, AUG 18 (NPN) | Publish Date: 8/18/2020 12:12:34 PM IST

Says, the present setup of JLF facing ‘huge trust deficit’

In a significant political development, NPF legislature party at a meeting held in Dimapur Tuesday at the residence of the Leader of Opposition (LoP) T.R. Zeliang, resolved to withdraw membership from the Joint Legislators Forum (JLF) on Naga political issue on the ground of “huge trust deficit”, particularly since the ruling dispensation has no confidence with the NPF legislators.

This was contained in a press communiqué issued by the opposition, which however said the NPF will continue to act as “active facilitators on the Naga political issue”. The party cited the refusal of its request to hold the recently concluded 6th NLA session for three days instead of one day. NPF had wanted to have a three-day session to discuss several issues confronting the Naga people including the Naga political issue.

NPF maintained that as a responsible political party, it has played the role as an active facilitator for resolving the Naga political issue since the last 23 years. After formation of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA), the opposition said it volunteered to be part of the JLF so that the Naga political issue could be carried forward.

However, it said after reconstitution of the JLF on September 18,2018 the JLF failed to make any progress due to the “half-hearted approach” of the present government. This, it said, rendered the JLF as a “mere Forum without any tangible road-map to the Naga political issue.” 

NPF pointed out that the signing of the Framework Agreement between the NSCN (I-M) and government of India on August 3,2015 and the signing of the Agreed Position between the government of India and the NNPGs on November 17,2017 had “created a conducive atmosphere for the JLF to assist and accelerate the ongoing peace process.” However, it said JLF was rendered an ineffective forum when meetings were convened but followed by inaction on the part of the present government. NPF said at almost every JLF meetings, it had proposed that members call upon the prime minister of India, the home minister and other central leaders to urge upon them to bring a logical conclusion to the long-pending Naga political issue but these had failed to see the light of day.

NPF also said that as suggested by the present chief minister, JLF had constituted a core committee that comprised of five NPF legislators out of 20 other members. NPF said three meetings of the committee were held during which it suggested sending a delegation comprising of representatives of various political parties and tribe representatives to meet PM and HM to apprise them for an early solution.

NPF said it renewed the proposal at the March 8,2020 JLF meeting at Niathu Resort but the chief minister came up with some excuses and so it was kept in abeyance. NPF said it had repeated its proposal as the JLF meeting held at the Old CM’s Banquet Hall Kohima on May 2,2020 but the chief minister made another excuse that first consultations with civil societies should be held. NPF also accused the chief minister of not speaking out his mind nor divulging detailed of his meetings with central leaders in JLF meetings or Core Committee members so they could move forward as facilitators for the Naga political issue. 

NPF said before the deadline for conclusion of negotiations was set on October 31,2019 , the present government paid least attention in convening a meeting of the JLF despite its fervent appeals. When all its pleas fell on deaf ears, NPF said its legislators along with NPF party central office bearers went to New Delhi on October 28,2019 where they met with leaders of seven NNPGs and NSCN (I-M) on October 29 and October 30 respectively.

It said the outcome was positive and subsequently on October 31,2019 it was informed that both political groups had arrived at a mutual understanding. 

Furthermore, NPF said on August 5,2020 the chief minister along with the finance minister of Assam were called to New Delhi by the union home minister. After his return, NPF said the chief minister maintained an “eerie silence on what transpired in the meeting.”

However, NPF said Assam finance minister disclosed to media during interactions that the meeting was regard to bringing permanent peace in the north east region and that the government of India was keen to resolve the Naga issue. “ The silence of chief minister is best known to him along”, added NPF.

Rio does not have confidence in Oppn MLAs, says Zelian

Correspondent adds: Leader of Opposition, TR Zeliang expressed regret that chief minister Neiphiu Rio does not have confidence in the opposition legislators.
Speaking to Nagaland Post following his party’s decision to withdraw from JLF, Zeliang alleged that even in the past Rio never disclosed his meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah or any other Central leaders on Naga political issue.
He explained that as JLF was a non-partisan forum on Naga political issue, NPF legislators volunteered to join so that the forum could act as facilitator. 
However, he lamented that till date only meetings were held without any outcome.
Considering the need for intervention of Central leaders, Zeliang said NPF MLAs had insisted during the JLF’s core committee meeting on March 8 that a delegation from the forum should meet the Central leaders. When the matter was raised again during the JLF meeting on May 2, the chief minister insisted that civil society groups should be first consulted before going to Delhi and till today nothing had been worked out, he added.
Zeliang said as there was no outcome for the last six-seven months, the opposition members insisted to discuss the issue in the sixth session of Nagaland Legislative Assembly, which however was turned down again.
According to Zeliang, convening JLF meeting on the same day of the NLA session as suggested by speaker Sharingain Longkumer was not feasible since discussion would require time. Therefore, he said wrote to the speaker to convene the JLF meeting before or after the session (July 30).
He claimed that he had suggested convening of the JLF meeting before or after August 13 to the speaker over telephone before the August 13 session was held, to which latter replied that he would consult the chief minister. However, he alleged that the Longkumer did not return the call.
Referring to governor RN Ravi questioning the role played by JLF in assisting him or the negotiating parties for an early solution, Zeliang said the governor had every right to ask the forum’s contribution as nothing had been done.
He cited instances of positive outcomes in meeting the Central leaders like signing of the Framework Agreement in 2015 followed by the Agreed Position in 2017 and said JLF had enormous tasks to carry out.
If the chief minister had confidence on the opposition members, he said there was no reason for him to hide anything from them. 
Zeliang asserted that NPF would however play its role as facilitator in the Naga peace process. 
He also added that as the legislators had decided to withdraw from JLF, the matter would now be taken up with the party’s working committee, the party’s highest forum, on how to go about. 

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