Need to look beyond the ‘immediate’ Pending the final pact

Prohibition or rather the decision of the State Government to lift the same is obviously at the centre stage with numerous Meira Paibi Lups and civil society organisations, most prominently the Coalition Against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA), having taken the lead in opposing the decision. The State Government too has not missed a beat in justifying its stand, with Chief Minister N Biren explaining the futility of continuing with prohibition when at the ground reality, it has had no impact on alcohol consumption amongst the tipplers. On the other hand, the Scheduled Tribe Demand Committee, Manipur and the World Meetei Council have been going ahead with its demand that the needed recommendations be sent to the Centre to include the Meeteis/Meiteis in the ST list of the Constitution of India. This is understandable for all these are current issues which can have an impact on the Government in the coming days, but it is a bit surprising to see that the ongoing dialogue between New Delhi and the NSCN (IM) does not seem to have caught the attention of the people and the State Government. True, certain civil society organisations including the United Committee, Manipur and others have been at the forefront laying down the stand that the idea of Manipur as a distinct geo-political reality should not be compromised in any final deal inked with the NSCN (IM). Everyone seems to know where the Government at Imphal stands as far as the territorial integrity of Manipur is concerned, but what if something else is offered to the NSCN (IM) in lieu of Naga integration ? What would be acceptable to Manipur ? Or is this point yet to be discussed minutely ? This is where the Government at Imphal would do well to understand what New Delhi exactly meant  by stating that a Constitution for the Nagas would be incorporated in the Constitution of India. Does this mean that all people who come under the Naga nomenclature would be covered under the Naga Constitution along with the Constitution of India or does it mean that it will cover only the Nagas of Nagaland ? So far prominent Naga organisations of Manipur, such as the United Naga Council, have not said much on what the Naga Constitution would entail, but this is no reason for the Government of Manipur to remain smug over the matter.
What if the projected Naga Constitution incorporates autonomy for all areas identified as Naga areas in Manipur and bypass the State Government when it comes to certain crucial points ? Would such an arrangement be acceptable to Imphal ? Would the proposed Naga Constitution cover the Nagas of Manipur and if yes would this mean that the writ and say of the State Government would not extend to the areas that come under Naga areas ? Or would the proposed Naga Constitution be applicable only to the State of Nagaland ? These are all questions which the State Government would need to study as the peace talk between New Delhi and the NSCN (IM) is reportedly at it last and final leg before the final deal is inked. Here it is also important for the CSOs of Manipur and the Government at Imphal to deeply study how the NSCN (IM) has been able to fire the imagination of the Naga people of Manipur so much so that many of them do not find it ‘comfortable’ to identify themselves as Manipuris. Or was sentiment lying dormant and only needed Thuingaleng Muivah and his men to wake it up ? There are pressing issues at hand, no doubt about that, but in the process it should not be forgotten that a final pact can be signed any day soon and Imphal would need to ask why none of the political leaders of Manipur have figured in the dialogue. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on the other hand seems to be well placed in the peace process, even as an outsider or as a third party.