The casualty of politics is truth. It may not be the first casualty but more dangerous is when this becomes the last word on subjects remotely connected with anything “political’ as understood in India today. Out of sheer etiquette, Editor of Seven Sisters Post, Subir Bhaumik stopped short of calling Union Home Minister P Chidambaram a liar, but this did not stop him from stating, ‘I can say it is Mr Chidambaram and not (us) who is not telling the truth,’ in response to the manner in which the story on the Supra State Body reportedly proposed by the Union Home Ministry to the NSCN (IM) was trashed. The Supra State Body report carried by the Seven Sisters Post had kicked up immense interest and sent the Chief Minister of Manipur, O Ibobi Singh, scuttling to Delhi for a durbar with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to present Manipur’s case and during a one to one with the Chief Minister, the Union Home Minister is quoted as ‘categorically’ denying the report. Chidambaram had even brushed aside the report on the Supra State Body proposal in lieu of Greater Nagalim as ‘baseless and mischievous’. One constant in the more than 14 long years of political dialogue between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) is the overwhelming lack of transparency and in such a climate, sacrificing truth under the garb of political expediency becomes all that more easy and convenient and it is under this ‘veil of secrecy’ that Delhi has been pottering around with the proposal of the Supra State Body for the Nagas. To hammer home their point, the Seven Sisters Post has already posted the documents in its hands on a website popular with the readers of the North East and has even asserted that the Union Home Minister had to refute the report under pressure from the Chief Ministers of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. The report which The Sangai Express carried in the November 15 issue under the heading, ‘Minutes of Supra State Body model spelt out, IM yet to say Yes or No’ was also on the basis of documents available with us.
That Nagalim, Greater Nagalim or whatever other issues the NSCN (IM) may have raised in its negotiation with the Government of India are extremely sensitive is a given and no media establishment based in the North East would come out with half baked stories. Credibility is the oxygen for all media establishment and no one, least of all a newspaper which has just started taking its first step, would come out with a report as sensitive as the Supra State Body sans a foundation of truth. Political expediency as understood in the politics of peace negotiation may have compelled P Chidambaram to trash the report which was subsequently taken up by all major newspaper houses in Manipur and Nagaland but this will not in anyway blunt the ripples that have been sent out. At best it may transfer the attention of the people from debating over the content of Supra State Body to whether the version of the Home Minister or what was scooped by The Seven Sisters Post appear more plausible. And this is where the mischievous part will emerge aided by the tightly layered coats of official secrecy. The Home Minister has stuck along expected lines and while the NSCN (IM) is yet to say anything, it is significant to note that the ongoing more than 90 days economic blockade rests on the foundation of the Alternative Arrangement model mooted in the Naga People’s Convention of Senapati on July 1, 2010. Despite the utterings of Chidambaram, the Alternative Arrangement call given by the UNC runs very close to the idea of the Supra State Body model reportedly proposed by the Union Home Ministry to the NSCN (IM) in lieu of Greater Nagalim. It is still some number of days before the Church bells will start chiming to ring in the birth of Jesus Christ and Christmas and while it may be too early to say whether a Christmas gift for the Naga people will materialise this year or not, the debate over the Supra State Body will hog the limelight at least in the next foreseeable future. The last word is yet to be said, but let it not be one based on falsehood.