Mounting pressure for solution

No doubt, pressure has been mounting enormously upon the NSCN-IM leadership to seal a final solution to the long drawn Naga peace talks. Incidentally, the NNPGs which joined the dialogue process much later had made it clear that they are ready to ink a final settlement. With the signing of the Agreed Position between the Government of India and NNPGs on November 17, 2017, it was widely reported that the talks had concluded on October 31, 2019. But no official declaration has been made yet regarding the purported conclusion of the dialogue process. NSCN-IM, the main militant group with which the Government of India initiated the dialogue process way back in 1997 stayed way from signing the Agreed Position. They made it very clear that it would not sign any solution sans provisions for separate flag and constitution. However, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had described the NSCN-IM’s demand for separate flag and constitution as something ‘unachievable even in 400 years’. The Union Home Minister’s unambiguous words implied that the Government of India and the NSCN-IM are not on the same page as far the issue of separate flag and constitution is concerned. It is amidst this stalemate that pressure has been mounting at an unprecedented level upon the NSCN-IM leadership to bring the dialogue process to a conclusion. At the same time, there is no synergy between NSCN-IM and NNPGs on the demand for separate flag and constitution. Perhaps, that is why, all the criticisms are now being targeted at NSCN-IM leadership. The irony of the situation is that NSCN-IM which started the dialogue process is now being seen by many quarters as a stumbling block to a final solution of the Naga issue.
It is now crystal clear that NSCN-IM’s insistence for a separate flag and separate constitution for the Nagas is the principal bone of contention. What is rather surprising is New Delhi’s readiness to seal a final deal to the protracted dialogue with or without NSCN-IM. In such a scenario, NSCN-IM, the main rebel group with which the Government of India initiated the dialogue process would be left out in the cold. How NSCN-IM would react to or deal with such a scenario is anybody’s guess. A Naga solution without NSCN-IM can never be complete, howsoever its demands are unacceptable to New Delhi. The protracted political dialogue cannot be termed a success if the final settlement is not affirmed by any of the stakeholder. At the same time, it is now discernible without any difficulty that the quest for separate flag and constitution is central to the NSCN-IM’s idea of sovereignty or ‘shared sovereignty’. Whereas the Government of India has unequivocally ruled out any possibility of a separate flag and constitution for the Nagas, the NSCN-IM has been steadfastly sticking to the same demand. These contradictory standpoints are unmistakable indications that the negotiation is far from over. To break the deadlock, either of the two negotiating parties or both must concede something or they must go back to the negotiating table. New Delhi needs to learn a lesson or two from the Shillong Accord, even if the objective conditions have changed, before dictating any kind of solution to the long drawn political dialogue. In fact, the Shillong Accord was the immediate and most prominent factor for the rise of NSCN after their leaders split from the NNC leadership. All stakeholders, particularly New Delhi must take all perspectives into account and work meticulously so that the much awaited final solution does not turn out to be another Shillong Accord.