DIMAPUR, OCTOBER 31: Chairman of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) and former Chief Minister TR Zeliang on Monday termed as illogical the calls for imposition of President’s Rule in the State and resignation of all Legislators in order to facilitate a solution to the Indo-Naga problem.
Addressing a press conference at Chümoukedima, Zeliang countered that the UDA, in its current Opposition-less disposition, has been cobbled together “to see that a lasting peace accord is signed before 2023 election”.
He explained that the repeated assertion of the Legislators to “pave way” includes resignation from Assembly “but post-solution only”.
“I have called for this press conference to address and also recollect a few past events to clear the apprehensions of public with regard to the role of the elected members and the sincerity towards facilitating in resolving the Naga political issue”, he said.
According to Zeliang, in the initial period of Indo-Naga talks ~ after the signing of ceasefire agreement between NSCN (IM) and Centre in 1997 when SC Jamir was Chief Minister ~ the elected representatives did not play active role in the parleys.
“But by the year 2003, after the change of guard and Neiphiu Rio became the Chief Minister of the State, a Joint Legislators’ Forum (JLF) on Naga political issue was formed in 2004.
Since then, he said, the Forum has made several attempts to facilitate the peace process. In August 2012, the JLF comprising all the 60 members met the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and various other Central leaders in Delhi and apprised them of an early solution to Naga political problem, he added.
After the NDA came to power in 2014, the Legislators’ Forum (Opposition-less) led by Zeliang as Chief Minister had invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Nagaland wherein apex tribal body leaders, civil society organisations and student leaders met and impressed upon the PM “the seriousness and aspiration of the Nagas for an early solution”.
“Following up on this remarkable visit by the Prime Minister, a delegation comprising 18 elected members of NLA, under the aegis of Legislators’ Forum, met the Prime Minister on July 16, 2015 followed by meeting with the Union Home Minister and MoS (Home) on July 17. In this meeting, the Prime Minister had boldly stated that if Nagas are ready to accept 80% of their demands and keep the door open for the remaining 20% to be taken up post-solution, he is prepared to sign the peace accord any time. He also said that if we want 100% at a time, it may take even 100 years”, he said.
Within 18 days of said meeting, the Framework Agreement was signed between NSCN (IM) and Centre, he added.
Zeliang went on to state that in 2017, the Working Committee of Naga Political Groups (WC-NNPGs), led by its Convener N Kitovi, called on him to inform that despite having ceasefire agreement with the Centre, the Interlocutor has never invited them for any official talks.
So he met the then Interlocutor RN Ravi in Delhi and requested him to invite the WC-NNPGs to official talks.
“But Ravi promptly replied that the NSCN (IM) will not accept such proposal to have dialogue with another group. However, he suggested that I should convince Th Muivah and the Collective Leadership of NSCN (IM) then only, he can invite them for official talks. Accordingly the very next day, I met Th Muivah and the Collective Leadership and requested them, not to stand on the way if the Interlocutor, RN Ravi, invites the WC-NNPGs for talks.
“Initially the proposal was met with stiff opposition but the Collective Leadership obliged on the condition that the talks should be within the parameter of Framework Agreement. And this condition was committed to Th Muivah by RN Ravi and that was the starting point of all the Naga groups being invited and parallel talks started across the table and subsequently, the Agreed Position was signed on November 17, 2017 between Government of India and WC-NNPGs”, he shared.
According to Zeliang, he had also written twice to SS Khaplang urging his group to join the negotiation process. However, the late Naga leader replied that his group “cannot come back to sign the ceasefire agreement since the Government of India was not sincere in their approach to resolve the Indo-Naga issue”.
He also cited the recent differences between Interlocutor AK Mishra and NSCN (IM) that had brought the negotiations to a standstill then. “So elected members, led by Chief Minister, met the Union Home Minister and apprised him of the situation. We also met AK Mishra and deliberated on the ways to solve this hiccup.
“Finally, Government of India assured that the talks would be based on everything put forward in the past and this we conveyed to the Collective Leadership of NSCN (IM). And as we can see, the talks have once again resumed and hopefully it will find a landing ground with mutual understanding between the negotiating parties”, he said.
Zeliang was listing those instances to underscore the role played by the elected members towards solving the Naga political issue. “As Chairman of UDA, today I want to clearly tell the Nagas that Naga solution is more important than any individual interests”, he said.
According to him, all the Naga negotiating groups have currently come together and all 60 MLAs are also together with one voice for the sake of Naga solution. “So why not we all join hands and support both the negotiating groups to arrive at a logical conclusion at the earliest instead of pointing fingers at each other with political vendetta”, he added.
Zeliang expressed hope that the Government of India would come up with a Common Draft “so that before inking the Accord, it can be brought to the Naga leaders and all concerned to see and acknowledge if it is acceptable to us”.
“By any standard, the negotiation is long enough and it must have a logical conclusion. Some principle issues which is being deliberated upon and yet to arrive at a conclusion, need to be resolved amicably at the earliest. The Core Committee was informed that some competency points are transitional towards final settlement”, he said.
(Page News Service)