NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 11: Whether the 7-group NNPGs (Naga National Political Groups) face any problem with the exit of RN Ravi remains to be seen.
RN Ravi was never a favourite of the NSCN (IM) or the group’s preferred man for the post of Interlocutor in the Naga peace parleys.
In 2014, as soon as the Narendra Modi regime took charge of affairs and NSA Ajit Doval was assigned to take up the pending Naga issue, Ravi’s name was in circulation as the new negotiator.
Prior to the general elections, the previous interlocutor RS Pandey had resigned and also joined the BJP. The NSCN (IM) red-flagged the move to have Ravi as the Interlocutor.
Of course, prior to his appointment as peace Interlocutor/negotiator, Ravi had made a veiled attack on the NSCN(IM) in a newspaper article in 2013.
He wrote: “Over 1,800 Nagas have been killed in some 3,000 fratricidal clashes since the beginning of the ‘ceasefire’ (1997-2013). Contrast it with the violence during the 17 years preceding the ‘ceasefire’ (1980-96) that took a toll of some 940 Naga lives in 1,125 clashes mostly with the security forces…”
The irony is underscored by the fact that while the security forces and the NSCN (I-M) have been at mutual ‘peace’ during the ‘ceasefire,’ twice as many Nagas have died, killing one another in some 300% escalation in fratricidal violence.
The vector of violence has turned inward with a vengeance from between the security forces and the Naga militias to the one among the Nagas themselves. Some in New Delhi gleefully chuckle at their remarkable feat of “trapping the ‘belligerent’ Nagas in this vicious cycle of fratricidal killings.”
Predictably, Ravi’s style of candid and ‘bitter way’ of speaking stuck even when he became Governor of Nagaland and also held the post of Interlocutor. Therefore, he had issues with the incumbent Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
Now that he has been made Governor of a ‘bigger’ State and politically important Tamil Nadu, in no way the Centre or the BJP central leadership is displeased with him.
If he mentioned certain ‘problems’ and ‘ills’, perhaps he was doing so on behalf of his bosses! At least this is what a section of BJP leaders would like to argue.
However, he overdid certain things such as giving importance to the likes of SC Jamir, a known bête noire of NSCN (IM) for decades.
Ravi also hailed the role of the Naga Peace Convention of the 1950s and 1960s that worked with the Government of India for bringing in statehood for Nagaland. Leaders such as Dr Imkongliba Ao also came into public focus after many years.
As part of the 58th Nagaland Statehood Day celebration on December 1, 2020, a memorial to commemorate the contributions of the Founding Fathers and the Martyrs was inaugurated in the Raj Bhawan lawns and a bust of Naga Peoples’ Convention (NPC) president Imkongliba Ao was also set up. This was a path-breaking move.
The reality of ‘tribal’ affinity of each distinct Naga tribe was perhaps ‘not considered’, suggests a section of BJP in Delhi.
Ravi’s transfer from Nagaland might have made some Naga politicians happy.
According to The Hindu, NDPP president Chingwang Konyak said Ravi “interfered in the affairs of a popular government. Some people are happy (because of his transfer) while some are not.”
Naga Hoho general secretary Elu Ndang reportedly said, Ravi “did nothing good for the Naga political issue.”
Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) general secretary Neingulo Krome, welcomed the transfer of Ravi and said it wants “a (more) sincere and committed man to bring in lasting peace in the state”.
But NPCC president K Therie sounded bitter about his certain friends and former friends.
Therie said people had expected the Centre to fulfill its promise to secure early solution after
Ravi on behalf of the Government of India, signed the Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015 and the Agreed Position on November 17,2017 and went on to declare that all official negotiations concluded on October 31,2019.
According to Therie, what is clear is that those who opposed Ravi wanted the status-quo to continue without solution. He was bitter against the NDPP-BJP dispensation. He said while the elected Government wanted to continue and was perhaps afraid of losing power, the ‘political group’ wanted to continue remote control of the State Government and continue with extortion.
Ravi was particularly displeased with ‘extortion’.
But those in the know of things in Delhi claim the Centre’s move is to put someone in charge of Raj Bhawan in Chennai who understood governance and bureaucracy well and could create problems for the MK Stalin Government in the southern state.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee leader KS Alagiri said: “…I suspect Ravi has been appointed to create problems for Chief Minister MK Stalin”.
Ravi’s stint in the Intelligence Bureau would ‘come to his aid’ to create ‘problems’ for a ruling Chief Minister in a state ~ the BJP would like to make deeper penetration in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
From Nagaland’s perspective, the Centre is keen to make a ‘forward movement’ with regards to the Naga peace process.
The NSCN (IM) had issues with Ravi ~ essentially at the personal level ~ and thus pressure would be mounted on the group now to reboot the peace parleys.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio has also been asked to work more sincerely in this endeavour.
The issues of Flag and Constitution were not acceptable to the Modi Government. Every time, the opponents of an early peace deal cannot get an excuse to blame and scapegoat a bureaucrat. The development also makes it clear that with Prime Minister Narendra Modi getting busy with more challenging works such as the Afghanistan front, his trusted man, Home Minister Amit Shah has been given freehand to handle the Nagaland issue.
Now that talks were also ‘completed’ by October 2019, there may not be any need for a new Interlocutor altogether.
Even the role of NSA Ajit Doval would remain curtailed for a while as he too is heavily engaged with diplomatic issues and strategic matters related to Afghanistan.
PM’s special panel on Afghanistan has Doval and of course External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar.
Ravi’s role as Interlocutor would certainly be remembered for inking Framework Agreement on August 3, 2015 with NSCN (IM) and also Agreed Position or Preamble signed by NNPGs on Nov 17, 2017.
Governors achieve success but some of them fail too. All answers lie only in the womb of time.