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Now, Rio bats for Agreement, says Naga Movement achieved ‘partial success’

Nagaland News

“Whatever agreed, sign the Agreement. And whatever cannot be resolved continue discussions”: Rio

Nirendra Dev
SENAPATI, FEBRUARY 16: In a development that is seen as a strong indication for an early peace breakthrough with Naga rebels, Naga Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Wednesday made a strong pitch for an early peace agreement between the Central Government and militant groups.
In an unambiguous statement ~ seen as aimed towards NSCN (IM) leadership~ Rio maintained that the Naga Movement is not a “failure” and it has already achieved “partial success”.
“I see no reason why there cannot be a settlement”, the Chief Minister said. “Whatever competencies agreed, make the agreement. And whatever cannot be resolved continue the discussions”, Rio stated.
“We want peace, we want settlement…and that voice should come from the public, particularly the youth”, Rio said addressing an election rally for NPF candidates here.
The people are clamouring for peace and said they want “opportunities” for the younger generation to come.
Rio, who belongs to NDPP and is likely to emerge as a leader of the united regional force, was invited by another Nagaland-based regional party, NPF, to campaign for Manipur elections.
Rio’s one-time lieutenant, who later turned a rival and now possibly again a friend, TR Zeliang, was also present.
The NPF has fielded 10candidates for the 60-member Manipur Assembly in the hilly region of Manipur.
Voting in 20 seats of Manipur’s hilly region is to be held on March 5.
The regional party NPF is keen to play a significant role in Government formation in Manipur if the polls throw up a fractured mandate.
A section of NPF leaders feel a stronger mandate for BJP in Manipur and Uttar Pradesh will further strengthen PM Narendra Modi’s hands and will give a major impetus to the peace process with Naga rebel groups.
“The Naga struggle, I will say, is not a total failure”, Nagaland Chief Minister Rio said, perhaps hinting towards a somewhat antagonistic stand taken by the rebel group ~ NSCN (IM).
This rebel group, led by Thuingaleng Muivah, has a substantial support base in Manipur hills and had created major hurdles by raising the bogey of separate Constitution and Naga Flag in the peace talks.
The other groups, under conglomeration NNPG led by N Kitovi Zhimomi, one time associate of SS Khaplang, are too keen to sign the peace pact.
Echoing the sentiment that actually clamours for early Solution to the Naga political problem, Rio said though his State (Nagaland) is set to go for elections early next year, he is “not (very) keen to have elections”.
“I want solution…”, Rio said.
In fact, the NSCN (IM) had started the peace parleys in 1997 when IK Gujral was Prime Minister.
Neiphiu Rio was a Congress leader himself. Rio is known as one of the few Naga leaders who have developed proximity to Thuingaleng Muivah over the last 2 decades.
The former Congress stalwart SC Jamir, who later became Gujarat Governor during the tenure of Narendra Modi as Chief Minister, had strong differences and ‘bitter rivalry’ with Muivah and NSCN (IM).
In his Senapati speech, Rio said, “The Naga movement is a partial success already… The Government of India has recognised the earnestness of the Naga history.”
The Chief Minister runs the NDPP-BJP Government and the dispensation recently got support from another regional party, NPF. Rio lately developed differences with a section of BJP leaders in Delhi after 14 Naga miners were killed by the Indian army in a botched up operation.
Both Rio and TR Zeliang were understandably also wary as the BJP dumped its regional allies
NPP and NPF in Manipur.
Rio echoes RN Ravi’s concerns on extortion
Rio today also seemed to echo the concerns flagged off earlier by the Central Government agencies and former Governor RN Ravi on the issue of extortion carried out by Naga rebel groups.
Ravi, who is a retired Special Director of Intelligence Bureau, was shunted out as Governor of Tamil Nadu.
Rio said, “There should be no violence in our society… there should be no extortion” and went on to add, “…the burden is too much”.
“Nagas have so many tribes and now Naga groups have so many camps. It is not workable…Today our society is already divided…”, said the Nagaland Chief Minister blasting at the extortion culture and maintained, “we have so many taxations… over and above organisations, so many individuals”.
Speaking against extortion, the Chief Minister said, “Burden is so much on common people.”
“We have to seriously think…otherwise there is no future.”
“This cannot sustain”, Rio said, virtually echoing what former Governor RN Ravi had said two years back.
Addressing the election rally in presence of NPF leader and a former Nagaland CM, TR Zeliang,
Rio said, now that the Naga movement has already achieved “partial success”, a Final Peace Agreement should be signed at the earliest.
“:If we do not make a loud and clear voice… we want peace we want settlement”, he said.
In his speech at a students’ conference in Phek in Nagaland on Tuesday, Chief Minister Rio had said that the Centre is willing to grant additional seats in the Assembly and Parliament to resolve the decades-old Naga political issue.
At present Nagaland has a 60-member State Assembly and 1 Member of Parliament each in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The Naga peace talks have been put on fast track lately and the Centre also reached out to an umbrella group of rebel leaders NNPG, led by N Kitovi Zhimomi.
The competencies being finalised between the Central Government and Naga groups seek to ensure setting up of a Legislative Council as well.
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 will ensure greater success of New Delhi’s Act East Policy with ASEAN countries.
“Today’s elections (in Manipur) means a lot for regional parties”, says CM Rio.
NPF leader and former Nagaland CM TR Zeliang lauded BJP Chief Minister N Biren Singh of Manipur for respecting Naga sentiment and NPF representatives in Manipur Assembly.
Huska Yepthomi flats Modi, Rahul
However, one NPF general secretary Huska Yepthomi criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to deliver the Naga peace formula in 18 months as was promised earlier.
Yephthomi also slammed BJP for attacks on churches in various parts of the country. He also criticised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for not mentioning Northeast and 8 States in one of his controversial tweets.
The NPF general secretary said, Congress has been reduced to being a “mother-son-daughter” party.