Thursday, March 30, 2023

On the current Naga political issue

This writer is reminded of some lines by the great poet, T.S Eliot who beautifully expressed the predicaments of human existence and the vast gap caused by them between our expectations and achievements, between our dreams and reality, and between the promises and their delivery :
‘Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the shadow.’
Unfortunately, true to poet Eliot’s lines, Naga people are living in the shadow and made to be content with.
Chief Minister Rio, while campaigning for the NDPP candidate for the 18 Chozuba assembly constituency on January 31, 2023, pledged that when the NDPP – BJP alliance returns to power, the top priority will be the Naga political issue. Why does Rio keep on raking up the Naga political issue when solution has been said to have been reached and agreed upon by the negotiation parties after more than 25 years of negotiation, and that too, whenever the state is about to go for election? When the state government had enough time to talk about solution at any period of time, why only when election is near?
In 2003, Rio had promised to secure solution within three months of coming to power if people voted for the NPF party by rejecting the Congress party. Since then, solution to the Naga political issue has remained his top most priority, always garnishing his commitment to bring lasting peace and prosperity to Nagaland with Naga solution.
After 20 years, we now see that Rio’s idea of a solution to the Naga political issue was, has been, and is only going to be the policy of ‘equi-closeness’with all the Naga political factions. The “I scratch your back, you scratch my back” policy with the Naga political groups to remain in power. Besides this “live and let live” policy, Rio and his government has done precious little to draw a political road map for the Nagas, and has instead created more confusions with their unapologetic unabashed pretentions about their self-appointed role as ‘facilitator’.
Equally to blame is the BJP, because Rio is nothing but BJP. What is the BJP but to parrot what Rio tells them to do and say. Every BJP legislator, before starting a speech, will first shower glory, honour, appreciation and eternal thankfulness to Rio. BJP has been in power along with Rio for the last 20 years. By conspiring with Rio, BJP has turned out to be the main stumbling block to the Naga political solution.
Nobody has forgotten the 2018 assembly election. In 2018, the desire for solution was the strongest than at any other time especially after RN Ravi, the then Governor cum interlocutor to the Naga political talks, had, in no uncertain means, declared that whatever was to have been negotiated had been covered, and that there was nothing more to negotiate and, therefore, officially, all talks have ended by October 31, 2019. As such, all the civil society organisations and political parties, which included the BJP as a signatory, had it all worked out inorder to push the central government to the corner and fructify the demand for solution, by refraining from signing the nomination papers. It was the BJP who betrayed the Nagas by going back on its own promise by filing nominations. NDPP immediately followed happily.
In this context, let us flashback to the 1998 assembly election. Unlike 2018 election, in 1998, there was no information whatsoever in the public domain about the contents of negotiations, the progress in talks, and if there was any broad based agreement. People of Nagaland made a big mistake by coming to a decision that assembly election should be deferred or postponed inorder to facilitate solution. The then CM, SC Jamir, refused to bow down to the pressure from various lobbies to boycott the election and give ‘peace a chance’ through the objective and slogan ‘Solution, not Election’. Jamir’s stand was clear. He stood against deferment of election since there was no time frame as to when solution would be secured, and for which the constitutional process cannot be withheld indefinitely. The people, actually, affirmed Jamir’s stand by giving the Congress party more seats than all the other parties in the 2003 election inspite of the huge ‘Naga solution’ wave created by Rio and his assurance of solution within three months of coming to power.
Thus we see that the year 2018 was a deja-vu, a repetition of 1998 when various CSOs from Nagaland came up with the resolution to not participate in the election and demanded that solution be declared since all official talks had ended and what was needed was only to ink the final draft for the agreement. The difference was that while SC Jamir was pragmatic and truthful in 1998 by his stand against the deferment of election, BJP was most untruthful in 2018 by agreeing to refrain from filing nomination papers, only to betray the Naga people by signing the nomination papers. Immediately the NDPP followed, as if reluctantly, in filing nominations. The BJP’s betrayal had Rio’s footprint allover.
Today, what is there for the BJP to show? There is nothing except two agreements signed on two papers (and that too, not even by a ministerial rank authority of the govt. of India) which the central BJP government itself is unable and unwilling and confused as to decide on what to do with them.
It is high time Naga people realise that overfocus on the Naga political issue is nothing but simply a ploy to play with the emotions of the people inorder to cover up misgovernance. The Rio led BJP government of Nagaland has been functioning for all these years as a proxy government of the Naga political factions. They are enjoying power without accountability. They are the crime syndicates, the mafia bosses of Nagaland and of whom Neiphiu Rio is the Godfather, and Imna Along – the torch bearer of the Lotus in Nagaland – his second-in-command in crime.
The more things change in Nagaland, the more it remains the same. Nagas today do not want new wine in old bottle. Given a choice but with no alternative, the preference would be old wine in new bottle.
Benito Z Swu

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