Riders in the assurance of Amit Shah;
Acknowledging word play
The rider is interesting. This is what stands out in the assurance given by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to the 18 member team of COCOMI when the latter met him at New Delhi late in the evening of November 25. It was the usual, ‘nothing that would compromise with the interests of Manipur would be inked in the final deal with the NSCN (IM),’ but what made the interaction with the Union Home Minister more interesting is the rider thrown in amid the assurance. It was with a reason why The Sangai Express italicised the sentence, ‘He stated that if there should be any change in his assurances, COCOMI representatives, the Government of Manipur and political parties would be consulted in time.’ Any change, is perhaps the operative line in the assurances given by the Union Home Minister and given the way the BJP has earned a distinction of trying to steal a march over its political rivals, best exemplified by the Maharashtra debacle, there is every reason why this should be taken seriously. How seriously COCOMI has taken this rider remains to be seen, but more than likely that they too must have taken serious note of it, for this line has been taken from the statement they issued to the media after meeting Amit Shah. This line also testifies that there is no blanket understanding of keeping the interests of Manipur intact, for the fact stands that something will have to be given to the NSCN (IM). To the Naga outfit which has been engaged in the peace process for the last 22 years, it could well be a case of ‘take 50 paise now, if not one rupee.’ What happens later to the remaining 50 paise is anybody’s guess. This is what Manipur is wary about.
The Chanakya of India politics, that he is, Amit Shah has already managed to say what would not outrightly disturb the COCOMI members and yet at the same time he left enough space to manoeuvre in the coming days, with the rider just mentioned. Again at the same time it is also important to remember that it was not Prime Minister Narendra Modi who the COCOMI members met, but the Union Home Minister. And remember the talk with the NSCN (IM) is being held at the level of the Prime Minister’s Office. How privy is Amit Shah to the ongoing political negotiations is anybody’s guess, but it is more than clear that he must be in the loop. In the backdrop of such a fact it stands that his assurance as well as the rider may not be taken seriously and this brings all back to square one. It is the same with the State Government too, for remember no political leader of Manipur has been able to meet the Prime Minister to express the State’s anxiety over the pending final pact. This is where another interesting question arises. The rider to the ‘if any change to the assurances’ is rounded up by yet another rider, ‘COCOMI representatives, the Government of Manipur, and political parties would be consulted in time’. Does this mean that the earlier assurance that all stakeholders would be consulted before the final pact is inked, can be understood within the context of the rider that has just been mentioned ? Wordplay is the hallmark of the professional politicians and here is hoping that COCOMI and the public are aware of this fact.