At last UNC states position Willing to wait stand
Not surprising and yet at the same a trifle disappointing that the United Naga Council, which is otherwise the apex Naga body in Manipur has not gone beyond repeating the same line that the NSCN (IM) took in rejecting anything that comes remotely close to the 16 Point Agreement model. It is however significant in the sense that this is the first time a Manipur based Naga body has come out so eloquently and strongly on where they stand in as far as the peace process between the NSCN (IM) and the Government of India is concerned. The stand of the UNC has again underlined the point which has been made many times in this column that the reach and influence of the Naga National Political Groups beyond the boundary of Nagaland is suspect. The question then is, whether any final pact inked without the NSCN (IM) would have any meaning or significance. This is a point which New Delhi must also be in the know, but it still stands that immense pressure has been mounted on the NSCN (IM) to come around and ink the final deal, sans the Flag and Constitution demand. The NSCN (IM) has also more than demonstrated that it is serious about the Flag and Constitution demand even going to the extent of openly ‘advising’ legislators of Nagaland not to go overboard while airing their views and opinions. That this open statement of the NSCN (IM) came after a prominent legislator of Nagaland asserted “it is now take or leave it moment for the NSCN (IM)’, is significant, very significant and one hopes that this is not a precursor of ugly developments to come anytime. The question which must be uppermost in the minds of the Nagas of Manipur, including the UNC and others, is what then if the Government of India does not give in to the Flag and Constitution demand of the NSCN (IM). What if the NSCN (IM), refuses to step back from the two demands it has brought forward ? Will these two demands then be used as a bargaining chip, with the NSCN (IM) putting forth other demands which may not exactly go against the stand of New Delhi ? These are all questions at the moment, but this is what must have seized the attention of the other stakeholders, including Manipur. Should Manipur rest easy on the verbal assurance that her territorial integrity would not be compromised under any cost ?
Even as New Delhi, Nagaland based political figures and the NNPGs have more than made it clear that the final deal should be inked soon, the UNC has taken a contradictory stand. It is extremely significant to note that it has questioned, ‘What is the hurry when we have already taken so many years ? Can the Nagas accept it if the Government of India gives anything ?’ and this question itself could carry so many answers. Can this mean that the NSCN (IM) is ready to carry on with the negotiation, until it gets what it wants or resume the bush war by going back to the jungles after decades on the negotiating table ? It is also highly possible that its cadre strength could have increased manifold in the years it has been in the peace process since 1997 and also very significant to note that it announced that ‘taxes’ will stop once the final deal is inked. This could mean that it has also built up its financial muscle tremendously. It is also interesting to note that while the NSCN (IM) has been referring and going back to the Framework Agreement of 2015, New Delhi has not mentioned this pact at all, even as the peace process seems to have run into choppy waters. Significant too that the NNPGs has not referred to the Agreed Position so far.