CM Rio said Centre is willing to grant additional seats in the Assembly and Parliament to resolve the decades-old Nagaland political issue.
New Delhi: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, on Tuesday (February 15), in an unprecedented frankness, shared 'clarity' in focus and laid down the Centre's priority for ending insurgency in the state and other Nagaland inhabited parts in the northeast.
"….. The Central Government and the Naga nationalist groups have informed the State Government about its willingness to bring about lasting peace in the state," the Chief Minister said.
"I want a solution because that will bring a new hope for the youth, the students and for the future," he remarked in a rather unambiguous manner.
The remarks from the Nagaland Chief Minister came at a critical juncture when the Centre is moving ahead persuasively to arrive at a stage when it can ink Final Peace Pact with multiple Nagaland groups.
Contesting in 20 seats, the BJP's strike rate in the 2018 assembly elections was the best as it could win 12 seats.
It is understood that Union Law Minister and a lawmaker from Arunachal Pradesh, Kiren Rijiju's recent visit to the state was quite significant.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah instructed chief Minister Rio last year to pursue NSCN (IM) to come on board as the militant group had raised the bogey of separate Flag and Constitution since 2019.
The Nagaland peace parleys to end decades-old insurgency in the tough terrains of the wilderness of northeast had started in 1997 when I K Gujral was Prime Minister.
Raising a separate Flag and Constitution was seen as a major hurdle from NSCN (IM) even as NNPGs (an umbrella organization of seven groups) is more than keen to ink a Final Peace pact at the earliest.
Addressing the inaugural session of the Platinum Jubilee celebration of Chakhesang Students' Union (CSU) held in Phek town, 122 km from the state capital Kohima on Tuesday, the Chief Minister made the crucial statement.
Expounding on a political settlement, Rio said there is so much injustice in Nagaland society that there is a need to 'rearrange the whole state' and change the people's mindset to become a better society and survive as a people.
The Centre is willing to grant additional seats in the Assembly and Parliament to resolve the decades-old Nagaland political issue, he said.
At present, Nagaland has a 60 member state assembly and one Member of Parliament, each in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The Nagaland peace talks have been put on a fast track lately, and the Centre also reached out to NNPG leaders.
The competencies being finalized between the central government and Naga groups seek to ensure the setting up of a Legislative Council.
In a similar vein, there are moves to increase the numbers of members in the Lower House of Parliament, Lok Sabha to two, and two-three for Rajya Sabha, the council of states.
There is also a need to take steps to 'open windows for new opportunities' in Nagaland and other parts of the northeast to garner greater corporate investment, sources said.
This has become more important to achieve 'expected results' vis-à-vis economic development and success of the government's Act East Policy and India's growing ties with South-East Asian countries and members of ASEAN.
At present, like Mizoram, Nagaland has only one member each for Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Other states in the region, like Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, have two members in Lok Sabha.
During the debate on Kashmir in Lok Sabha in August 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah had said there would be "no dilution" to the essential spirit of Article 371 (A) for Nagaland.
Efforts are on to take the states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh on board. These states have a substantial Nagaland population.
Chief Minister Rio also said Nagaland will soon enter the election year as the state will go to the polls by Feb-March 2023.
"While many candidates are working hard and developing their prospects for the elections and the general public are also looking towards the election period as festival, I am looking forward to a solution to the protracted Nagaland political issue because unless a solution is arrived at there is no perfect peace in our land and no peace of mind", Rio said.
Nagaland Chief Minister Rio, who belongs to NDPP, has been requested by Naga People's Front to campaign for assembly elections in Manipur. The NPF is contesting 10 seats in Manipur.
Two important BJP leaders, Nalin Kohli, the party in charge of Nagaland, and Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, visited the state recently and held crucial meetings with important stakeholders.
Both the leaders were briefed by state BJP leaders about the latest political situations. An important line told the central leaders has been the BJP's 2018 slogan – 'Election for Solution'.
It was emphasized that no less than the then party general secretary in charge of Nagaland, Ram Madhav, had coined that slogan in response to persistent demand by various Nagaland groups and militant organizations that no election should be held in the state if no solution is arrived at.