The elections in Nagaland could be over, and exit polls and other analyses suggest that the BJP-NDPP alliance will return to power, but the central Government remains firmly committed to an early solution to the vexed Naga political problem.
On the polling day on February 27, Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted that the peace process should not be disturbed and delayed. “While Nagaland goes to vote today (February 27), I urge sisters and brothers of Nagaland to ensure that the peace process that has already been initiated does not face any hurdles,” tweeted Amit Shah.
There is much significance in the Minister’s remarks as political detractors of the BJP have raised questions on the intent of the Modi government vis-a-vis solution to the Naga political issue.
The Home Minister’s remarks ought to be understood and appreciated from the fact that
During his February 24 election rally speech at Chumoukedima near Dimapur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself referred to his meeting with the Nagaland Gaon Burra Federation (NGBF) and the assurance he had given them on the Naga issue.
“Mein Gaon Burrah ko jo wada kiya hae, woh waden pura karna chahta hoon (Whatever I have promised to Gaon Burras/village elders I will like to fulfill those)”.
A local social activist and key proponent of the early solution, Theja Therieh, said, “I welcome the Prime Minister’s speech and reference to his meeting with the Gaon Burra Federation. The Nagaland GB Federation leaders specifically had met the Prime Minister in 2017 for a political solution and not for anything else”.
Notably, the Prime Minister, in his February 24 speech, also stated that – “After March 2, when a new Government takes charge, more stringent measures will be taken against extortion”.
The Union Government inked two preliminary pacts Framework Agreement with the NSCN-IM on August 3, 2015, and an Agreed Position with NNPG on November 17, 2017.
The peace talks between the NSCN-IM and the centre started in 1997 during the stint of I K Gujral as the Prime Minister. The centre has stated more than once that the parleys on the Naga political issue has concluded in October 2019.
However, the final peace pact has been stalled because the NSCN-IM raised the bogies of a separate Flag and Naga Constitution. The centre has rejected both demands.
On the role of Gaon Burras, PM Modi said on February 24, “When I had invited the Gaon Burras to my home in Delhi and welcomed them, they had blessed me….They blessed me so much and today also (aaj bhi) they have been continuing to bless me”.
Theja Therieh clarified, “The fact of the matter is the Prime Minister made his remarks on Naga village elders deliberately and with a purpose. The GBs had played a pioneer role along with Nagaland Tribes Council (NTC) to formalise the setting up of the Nagaland National Political Groups (NNPGs) in 2017, and that gave birth to the Agreed Position and Status Paper.”
“These are the solid basis to work for the final peace pact which a section of Naga leaders are trying to sabotage utterly for their selfish motives”. It may be mentioned that besides the GB body, only the NTC as a civil society group had met the Prime Minister intending to bring NNPG at the negotiating table.
Theja Therieh also recalled, “The NTC met PM after the NTC Mediation Committee successfully brought the NNPGs to a common platform, it urged the Prime Minister to invite them for inclusive negotiation. This was followed by NGBF meeting with PM on August 3, 2017. The Hon’ble PM categorically assured both the delegations that he will invite the NNPGs and resolve the protracted Naga Political Issue for an inclusive solution”.