TODAY -

So much for Naga talks : "There's no middle path. Either Rio regime delivers or it fails"

Nirendra Dev *



Henry Kissinger had famously stated that true statesmanship calls for balancing the past experience against the future claims. This saying can easily apply to the ground zero situation in 2024 vis-a-vis Naga peace talks.

In 2019, the government of India said the parleys have made tangible progress and hence time was ripe to ink a final pact. Stage was set. Social media was on fire as Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, T R Zeliang (then a former CM) and Deputy CM Y Patton (of BJP) welcomed the almost sealed deal.

But it was vetoed -- initially by the Home ministry at the complaints of Manipur CM N Biren Singh and an all party delegation. There was already some violence in Imphal valley. And later issues like Flag and a separate Naga constitution were raised. They were real hurdles. No Indian Prime Minister worth his salt can agree to these twin set of demands.

The talks got delayed; the saboteurs had the last laugh and common people in the state of Nagaland continued to suffer.

The 2024 mandate sent shock waves across the board. PM Modi realised he could have delivered Naga peace pact and dispel an alleged perception that he did not do much for the north east and the tribals.

The NDPP leadership equally got a jolt and a warning. NDPP president Chingwang Konyak has called the mandate nothing extra ordinary as he as an Independent candidate could defeat strong regionalist Rano Shaiza in 1980.

But it also true everyone is feeling the pressure. The Nagaland mandate in 2024 has also demonstrated that if Nagas can get angry -- no efforts by any other players from outside the geographical boundary to influence course of development in the state may actually be entertained.

New Delhi mandarins are cautious. A few of them even on the condition of anonymity are not divulging much. Responses to media queries are cautious and guarded with nuances. However, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and key NNPG leaders may be in Delhi soon. Rio came for a quick meeting as Finance Minister to attend Nirmala Sitharaman's pre-Budget consultation meeting.

These have set the tone for optimism. There are also other debates and players trying out opportunism cards too. The refrain is old one.

What do I get in case the Final peace pact is signed ? Who should decide the fate of Nagas of Nagaland....and so on ?

Two geographical entities are also in debate -- eastern Nagaland and southern Nagaland -- and of course in both the cases the reasons and the rhyme are different.

In between comes another debate -- will Congress revive itself both in Nagaland and at the national level ? This is a momentous time. Lone Lok Sabha MP, Supongmeren Jamir was elected on Congress ticket.

In the name of an active and sensitive opposition party, the Congress party should not do anything funny that could again delay or derail the ongoing Naga peace talks.

In 2015, under the then Home Minister Rajnath Singh -- the centre faced hurdles from three Congress chief Ministers in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. Apprehensions were expressed after signing of the Framework Agreement that the Naga deal could lead to bifurcation or splits in these three states.

This time Supong will do well to impress upon his high command not to create hurdles either technical or political. In fact, the mandate in Nagaland and both parliamentary segments in Manipur explicitly in favour of Congress shows that the Congress party has been entrusted with an enhanced responsibility.

In northern state of Uttar Pradesh, it could be the 'wrong reasons' of caste and religion that decided the fate of candidates especially for the Congress and Samajwadi Party. But in north east and especially, the people's verdict is directly linked to governance issues in Manipur as well as Nagland.

And as far as Nagaland is concerned -- key governance matter is an early solution to the long pending Naga political issue.

It ought to be understood by one and all that all 60 elected members of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly have taken oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India. It is therefore enjoined upon the elected Government and legislators to uphold the sanctity of the Constitution and defend and preserve the unity and integrity of the country.

There should not be any ambiguity as far as the stand of the elected MLAs and their commitment to the constitution of India is concerned.

Sources say MPs from the ruling NDA including those from north east will raise the Naga talks-related issues during the first Parliament session beginning next week and tell Parliament on how desperately people are waiting for positive results.

Both Naga lawmakers Supongmeren Jamir (Congress) and S Phangnon Konyak (BJP) will also get their opportunities to do the needful. The Rio government will go down the memory lane as the opposition-less dispensation that delivered or the one that failed. There is no middle way.


* Nirendra Dev wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is based at New Delhi and can be contacted at nirendev1(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on June 25 2024.



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