By Oken Jeet Sandham
The Government of India’s indecisive stand on the crucial Naga political issue is all the more making “unprecedented confusion.” Sometimes they said solution in 12 months, on the other in 24 months. They also said solution to the Naga political issue would be in the month of December and again they stated solution would be before the coming of the Nagaland State general election due early next year. We really fail to understand why the Government of India is talking like this on a “political issue” which is, by any standard, one of the most important issues facing this country as of now.
Very interestingly, the Government of India has now again revealed that they have been talking to Chief Ministers of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to find ways to resolve the “Naga political issue.” How can they go on like this? What have they been doing all these fifteen long years like a sitting duck only to throw ball in the courts of Chief Ministers of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to see that the Naga political issue is settled.
But the CM of Manipur O Ibobi Singh is not going easy. He knows where he stands but very tactfully trying to throw the ball back to the Centre. He has technically forced them to disclose the contents of their “Agendas or Charters of Demand” so as to start examining on it for finding logical solution. The “Honourable” political settlement to the Nagas may not be “Honourable” to others. So what he had pushed his points through is that any settlement to the Naga issue should be workable in Manipur. For Ibobi, “Workable is more important than Honourable.”
We have also seen the incumbent Indian Premier Dr Manmohan Singh’s statement that the Naga issue would be solved during the UPA-II tenure. That means settlement to the Naga issue will be, most probably, before the country’s general election due in 2014. The Premier hasn’t said the Naga issue would be solved before the Nagaland State general election. Anyway, the Honourable Prime Minister must have been more than satisfied that showers of praises from various Naga civil societies and the leaders of the NSCN (IM) started pouring in day by day that he was sincere towards finding the solution to the Naga political issue. In fact, no any other Prime Ministers had so much praises as Dr Singh had.
However, the present 60 Nagaland law makers’ going to Delhi under the banner of the Joint Legislature Forum (JLF) meeting with various Central leaders including the Prime Minister, the leaders of Indian National Congress, BJP, NCP, JD(U) expressing their minds to the Naga political issue is admirable. They also expressed that they were ready to pave way as and when any arrangement to the Naga political issue was arrived at. Many of them kept talking of “Alternative Arrangement or Interim Arrangement” for finding solution to the issue. The only strange thing is such languages have not come so far from the mouths of the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Sindhe or for that matter the Honourable Prime Minister.
Most surprisingly, such words like “Interim Arrangement or Alternative Arrangement” are not forthcoming from the collective leaderships of the NSCN (IM) either. We mostly heard about the Honourable Nagaland Chief Minister’s talking of “Alternative Arrangement or Interim Arrangement” to the Naga political issue. But the majority of the Nagaland legislators who tripped to national capital under the banner of JLF could not explain satisfactorily to media persons when the latter asked the former as to why they had to meet Central leaders or whether they had any knowledge of the “Agendas” agreed upon between the “Centre and NSCN (IM).” Their simple reply was: “We don’t know what they were talking. We have only gone to Delhi to say that as and when any settlement is arrived at, we are ready to pave the way.” This reply struck me as to how the 60 Nagaland lawmakers could undertake such a “remarkable journey” under the banner of JLF without having knowledge of what the Centre-NSCN(IM) already have had something that would be, no doubt, the basis for making a road to settlement of the issue. These 60 lawmakers from Nagaland also knew very well that the talks are between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) and without the other groups that are also maintaining truce with the Centre over a decade.
What I fail to understand is when the 60 legislators from Nagaland could boldly display a show of unprecedented unison to Central leaders for the cause of the settlement of the Naga political issue, why did they lack courage to influence the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) to come out public of their “Agendas.” And in any case, any settlement—be it Interim or Alternative—cannot be “secret.” It has to be finally made public. It is better to pluck the fruit to eat before it is over ripe. You may not be able to eat at all at last it is over ripe.
We should also know that we are living in a democratic country. Ours is different from the neighbouring China. We have elected representatives from the organized political parties. The majority forms the Government while the others as opposition. We also have pressure groups that play crucial role in democratic nations including ours.
When the Governments fail to function, the citizens will go immobile. But if the pressure groups fail to exert or whip the failed Governments to activate, the citizens will gradually sink. If the Opposition fails to exercise and draw the attention of the pressure groups to work for the general publics, then altogether sinks.
So here come the actions of the so-called pressure groups to exert the Governments through various forms of agitations, strikes, bandhs and even creating chaos, rioting, etc. All these forms are accepted in democratic countries all over the world. The principal purpose of these groups is to see that the Governments act so that the desired results are produced.
In our case, it looks like we are in the boat without sailor. Radar will not help without sailor. We don’t’ see any rescuer nearer either.
Although it is “unique” the Ruling and Opposition law makers coming together under the banner of JLF, their roles are different. The goal may be same but the roles will be different. If their roles are same, there need not be opposition in the State. It will look like a “melodrama,” if this separation of roles is not defined in a democratic country.
The Bottom line:
There are four months to go to the State general elections. Almost all the incumbent legislators in the State are thoroughly confused and they are actually kept in the dark not knowing whether there will be election as scheduled or some kind of “Political Arrangement” as part of the settlement to the ongoing political negotiations between the Centre and the NSCN (IM). This vague political development also created huge confusion in the minds of those potential political leaders ready to fight in the coming State general election, while the masses have started going haywire. At the same time, the electoral process cannot be held up. It has to go on. So, it is largely believed that the Centre may opt for proclaiming the President’s Rule in Nagaland and during that period, they may strike some kind of arrangement to settle the political issue. Then everybody is given opportunity to fight elections. We still hope that the Centre is sincere to see that any settlement they are about to work out should not have negative impact anywhere. The people in the region are also mature enough to pre-empt any defective framework.