Piling pressure on the NSCN (IM) Pending final pact

Only the Collective Leadership of the NSCN (IM) will really know, but one can easily imagine the immense pressure that has been mounted on the outfit to fall in line and sign the final accord. A look at the reality will testify this. The Government of India has been toeing the line or a similar kind of line, that the peace talk has been finalised and the only thing that is left is the signing of the final deal. The Naga National Political Groups, a conglomerate of Naga armed groups, has also more than made it clear that they are ready to sign the final deal. It is only the NSCN (IM), which is, or is made out to be the only entity, which is not yet ready to sign the final pact sticking to its two main demands-a separate Naga Flag and a separate Constitution for the Naga people. While the geographical coverage of the Flag and the Constitution is not very clear, especially in the backdrop of the Greater Lim demand of the outfit, what is clear is that the Government of India is not ready to accede to these points and adding that much more muscle to their stand would be the decision to take away the certain privileges granted to the then undivided Jammu and Kashmir, which had its own flag and Constitution. It is not only the stand of the NNPGs and the Government of India, but the mounting pressure from some quarters in Nagaland which the NSCN (IM) must be feeling. This is where the ‘Take it or leave it moment for the NSCN (IM)’ statement from MLA Kuzholuzo Azo Neinu becomes important. Was the MLA only speaking out his mind, or was he echoing the collective stand of the elected representatives of Nagaland ? Moreover remember Mr Neinu is a prominent leader of the Naga People’s Front, which has a strong presence not only in Nagaland but also in the Naga dominated districts of Manipur. The interesting question is, whether this means that the NSCN (IM) today stands isolated in Nagaland or not. Tough to say for what happens in the  corridors of power (read the corridors where the political leaders of Nagaland walk plus the NNPGs to a certain extent) may be far removed from what the Naga people, the people on the streets actually feel. Significantly the Nagas of Manipur have not voiced their opinion on the matter and many may take this to mean that they stand with what the NSCN (IM) stands for. Many things may be read into this, but let it be very clear that the Nagas of Manipur do not have much in common with the Nagas of Nagaland, except that they identify themselves as belonging to the same tribe called the Nagas. 
The mounting pressure on the NSCN (IM) is also an indication that the peace talk is at the final stage and this is where it becomes important to question whether any final deal sans the NSCN (IM) can be complete. Remember it was the NSCN (IM) which first entered into the casefire pact with the Government of India back in 1997. The NNPGs only came at a much later date and the Agreed Position it signed with New Delhi came only in 2017. The politics of roping in the NPPGs in the peace process is also interesting and this is something which must not have missed the attention of the NSCN (IM). The final deal is yet to be signed with only speculations doing the round, with one section asking that the deal be inked before the next Assembly election in Nagaland in 2023 and the other section opining that the final pact may not be signed before the next Assembly election. Other than the pressure mounted on the NSCN (IM), it also stands that Thuingaleng Muivah is not getting any younger and is already in the winter of his life. The second rung leadership must have been groomed to take over in any eventuality but with Isak Chisi Swu gone, the last thing the NSCN (IM) would need is to proceed in the absence of Muivah. This is the reality. As noted earlier in this column, the politics of peace must surely be more dicey and uncertain than the bush war it waged for decades against India and this point may have sunk into the consciousness of the Collective Leadership of the NSCN (IM).