Naga CM, other leaders press for solution and final peace pact before state polls

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This is being called the ‘unprecedented’ display of the true spirit of ‘facilitators’ by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and his colleagues for bringing an end to the vexed and long-pending Naga political issue.

In a major development, the Nagaland government on Wednesday made specific progress and took quantum leap in terms of giving a push to ‘early solution and agreement’ to the long-pending Naga insurgency problem.

Rio of NDPP, Deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton of BJP and Chairman of the ruling combine T.R. Zeliang, a former CM and NPF leader, said all concerned matters and negotiations vis-a-vis Naga peace talks ended on October 31, 2019.

Sources said that at the meeting, Chief Minister Rio said, “If solution is not arrived at and a peace pact is not inked, it will be difficult to hold or face next year’s elections in Nagaland.”

During his February 16 election speech at Senapati in Manipur also, Rio had pressed for an early solution to the Naga issue.

“I want a solution because that will bring a new hope for the youth, the students and for the future,” Rio had said.

It was emphasised by the state government representatives and others at Wednesday’s meeting that there is no much gainsay in raising issues like separate Naga flag, pan-Naga Hoho and separate constitution.

Talking to this journalist at his Dimapur residence, NNPG convener N. Kitovi Zhimomi welcomed the “unprecedented meeting” held on Wednesday.

“I am glad that wisdom has been displayed by the Nagaland government and the state cabinet. This meeting will have a salutary impact in putting things on fast track,” said Zhimomi, whose umbrella organisation NNPG had inked a Preamble Pact with the Government of India on November 17, 2017.

Sources also said it was made clear at the meeting of Naga leaders and major social and voluntary organisations, including Gaon Bura Federation, student bodies, Naga Global Forum and Naga Hoho, that the

state government and the Nagaland legislature ‘are not authorised’ to speak on matters beyond the Indian Constitution and what is defined and legitimate under the powers of the state government.

The crucial consultative meeting of Naga Tribal Hohos, political parties, church organisations, and mass-based civil societies was convened by the state government.

Chief Minister Rio, Deputy CM Patton and former Chief Minister T.R. Zeliang are expected to reach Delhi on Thursday to brief the Central leaders on the ‘outcome’ of Wednesday’s deliberations.

The Budget session of the Parliament resumes on March 14 and the Home Ministry wanted all concerned information on table before resumption of the Parliament session, sources said.

There were, of course, specific queries made by some leaders and participants at the meeting that ‘why’ Naga leaders outside Nagaland (in states such as Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam) and also in Myanmar were not called for Wednesday’s consultative meeting.

The urgent call for a solution and final agreement before elections in Nagaland is a significant development as the state will go to the Assembly polls by February 2023 along with Tripura and Meghalaya.

It is understood that the concerned parties, especially the government of India, were waiting to wrap up the elections in Manipur before taking a final call to announce a formal peace agreement.

Substantial Naga population, especially Tangkhul Nagas of rebel leader Thuingelang Muivah, reside in Manipur.

A representative of a senior citizens’ forum said the issues like pan-Naga Hoho and separate flag and constitution were “irrelevant matters” at this juncture vis-a-vis the ongoing peace parleys that got underway in 1997.

The resolution adopted and signed by Rio, Deputy CM Patton and former CM Zeliang said, among other things, “The people are yearning for an early political solution. The negotiating parties should earnestly heed to this call and arrive at a political solution that is honourable, inclusive, transparent and acceptable to the people.

“The House further appeals to all sections to make renewed efforts towards unity and understanding in order to work towards One Solution and One Agreement.”

In fact, the BJP’s election manifesto ahead of the 2018 Assembly polls had pledged to work for a final peace pact and the theme slogan was ‘Election for Solution’.

Nagaland BJP President Imna Along also reminded the gathering that his party is committed to ‘deliver’ the solution as was promised during the elections in 2018.

The NNPG, the umbrella organisation of various Naga groups operating in Nagaland, had on Tuesday urged the Nagaland government to focus on ‘governance’ and leave the matters related to Naga peace talks to the

negotiating parties — that is the Centre and the negotiators.

“The state government may focus on Nagaland issues and governance. The subject of Naga political issue is best left to the government of India and the Naga negotiators, mandated by the people to usher in honourable

and acceptable political solution at the earliest,” the working committee of NNPG said in a statement.

(Nirendra Dev is a senior journalist and author of books ‘The Taking Guns: North East India’, and ‘Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth’. The views expressed are personal.)

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