Nagaland, other NE states should contribute to nation building, says S.C. Jamir (Interview)


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s keenness to take a ‘decision’ is always an advantage and the final solution to the Naga political issue could change the entire North-East and also make the Centre’s Act East policy a major success, veteran Naga leader S.C. Jamir has said.

‘I always foresee the North-East region of India emerging as an economic hub. Therefore, the people of the North-East region should be prepared to face the challenges. With peace and implementation of the Act East policy, we will see a lot of economic activities in that part of the country,’ Jamir said in an interview.

‘Naga people have great potential to develop and contribute towards building this great nation. Especially, our younger generation is very intelligent, and their views are very broad. They don’t confine themselves to tribes, they don’t confine themselves to their own people. But they have a broader vision quite different from the older generation,’ said the 90-year-old senior politician.

‘The Prime Minister fully understands the situation (related to Naga peace talks). He is fully aware of the various factors that are delaying the process. He also knows the positive aspects of the entire process,’ Jamir said. He met the Prime Minister on Nov 6 and both the leaders discussed the Naga political issue.

‘The Government of India has rightly decided to focus on this part of India. So, we are looking forward (to the fact) that the younger generation of the people of the North-East should be assets for nation-building activities. We have been depending on the Centre. But all the time, we cannot depend on the Centre,’ he said.

‘Therefore, I say Nagaland and other North-Eastern states should also be contributing towards building this great nation,’ said Jamir, who was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 2020. In order to accelerate the Naga peace process, the Government should have the will to end the insurgency problems, Jamir said, adding that it was good that they have already agreed to enter into agreements (framework) with Naga groups in 2015 and 2017.

‘I was very happy to read when the Prime Minister said on Aug 3, 2015 that he welcomed the decision of the underground to join the mainstream of Indian polity. I think this was a good sign and that is why the Government of India and PM have called it historic,’ the former Nagaland Chief Minister and ex-Governor of Gujarat and Maharashtra said.

‘I have been telling the Prime Minister about the realities of the situation and I think it will be better that things should be expedited. After all, for how long we can go on negotiating,’ Jamir said.

Talking about the Prime Minister’s style of functioning and taking key decisions, Jamir said: ‘The Prime Minister has the guts, that is an advantage. The Naga issue has its complexities. I have seen many Prime Ministers, but one good quality with him is, he takes decisions and it is very important’.

To a question on his personal rapport with Modi, the senior Naga politician said: ‘We had a very good relationship though I was there only for five months. We were good friends. When I became Governor of Gujarat in 2009, I told him, I am an ex-Chief Minister so I know the responsibility of a Chief Minister. So as Governor I will never interfere. My role would come only when you trespass on the constitution. I myself never liked the Governor to interfere, so I never interfered’.

Jamir was one of the few Governors appointed by UPA but was allowed to continue in office at Bhubaneswar Raj Bhavan by the Prime Minister Modi’s government after 2014. ‘The Naga people have been waiting, and waiting for too long,’ he emphasised expressing his concern on the prolonged parleys between the Centre and the Naga militant groups that began in 1997.

‘I think there is a limit to everything. When enthusiasm is there, I think it is better that a decision is taken. Because when the curry is prepared, you can really enjoy and relish it when it is hot. But when it becomes cold and stale, there will be hardly anybody willing to enjoy the curry. So, I think before it becomes cold, the curry should be shared by those people who are entitled to share the curry cooked by the Prime Minister,’ Jamir said.

(Nirendra Dev is a New Delhi-based journalist. He is also author of books, ‘The Talking Guns: North East India’ and ‘Modi to Moditva: An Uncensored Truth’ )–IANS